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Riki situation: Nail down starting spot after up-and-down season

Coming off one of his best NRL games, Jordan Riki is aiming to make Brisbane's right-edge spot his own over the final five rounds.

Riki made his debut last year and was touted as a player to watch in 2021 but he admits he didn't claim a starting berth way he would have liked when given first crack earlier this season.

Emerging talents Brendan Piakura and TC Robati and 2022 signing Kurt Capewell will ensure he can't be complacent in his mission to nail down a spot in the second row.

Riki started all bar one of the first 10 games before he was dropped mid-season before working his way back into the squad via the bench.

"I got off to a bit of a slow start at the start of the year, there were some personal things for me that I was struggling with," the young New Zealander said.

Riki seals the win with a well-deserved try

"One of them was definitely missing my family and they sort of helped me stay grounded and tipped me up on a few things I needed to work on.

"During the bye round the borders were open so I got to shoot home for a couple of days and just relax a little bit and when I came home I felt fully refreshed.

"We've got some great talent coming through that's keeping me on my toes like Brendan Piakura and TC Robati and obviously have Kurt Capewell coming next year as well.

Riki does the damage to provide for Croft

"I'm truly grateful to be in this team so I'll keep working hard and keep having those small chats with the staff to stay in this team."

Riki's 80 minutes against the Cowboys netted one crucial try to go with a match-high 46 tackles, five busts and a try assist.

It's that sort of form that will keep him in Kevin Walters's run-on side but for Riki, just registering an emotional victory late in a tough season was the best part.

"It's just great to get a win. We're on that rebuild and it's obviously hard sometimes when other people outside our group can't see that but I definitely do believe in Kevvie and his staff that we have a strong rebuild coming," he said.

"We just have to keep working hard. We've signed some key players for next year and also some boys that have re-signed so I'm really excited for the next years to come and keen to see what we can produce in the next couple of years and hopefully get that premiership."

The win came at a cost, with Riki's right-side partner Kotoni Staggs out for the season with a knee injury and hooker Jake Turpin set to miss at least three games with an ankle issue.

"It's hard. I get along with Kotoni really well, he's one of my close mates especially on my right edge as well he's always been really good for me on defence and attack, always talking to me and tipping me on stuff I can work on and improve," Riki said.

Match Highlights: Broncos v Cowboys

"It's obviously a bit gutting to lose Kotoni and Turps as well, it's hard to lose both of them, they're both key players in our team. It's a tough one to take but hopefully we can finish strong for them in the rest of the games to come."

Jesse Arthars is Staggs's likely replacement this Thursday against Newcastle although David Mead is also in the frame.

"Both of them are dangerous. Jesse's been in and out of the team as well as Meady but every time they've come into the team they've really stepped up," Riki said.

Every try from Round 20

"They're both great players and I truly trust both of them to do the job and to do it well. Jesse and Meady are a different style of players but they're both very safe as well and they don't mind rolling their sleeves up and doing the dirty work, getting those hard carries and executing as well."

The Broncos have a chance to move away from wooden spoon territory and even climb outside the bottom four with a couple more wins.

Coming up against a Knights side coming off a four-day turnaround on Thursday is a golden chance to spring an upset.

"I honestly do feel really bad for them," Riki said of Newcastle's fate following round 21's COVID-enforced restructure.

"It would suck to have a four-day turnaround but it's just one of those things, we can't really do much about it, you have to just roll with the punches.

"I know it's not just them, other teams have had to relocate up here. I know their families are doing it tough in the lockdown period ... we've just got to do what it takes to keep the game going."