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Nikorima eyes starting Broncos spot

January 06, 2015 11:44:01 UK

Brisbane’s Ben Hunt.

Kodi Nikorima has put his hand up for a shot at replacing Darius Boyd as Brisbane Broncos’ first-choice fullback at the start of the NRL season.

With Boyd out due to a ruptured Achilles, the battle is on for the custodian role and Nikorima sees himself as a contender despite not having in the NRL before.

The 20-year-old impressed at last year’s Auckland Nines, then spent the rest of the season in the National Youth Competition alongside his younger brother Jayden.

Nikorima has been encouraged by coach Wayne Bennett’s willingness to see who emerges as the best contender for the No.1 jersey in round one against South Sydney Rabbitohs at Suncorp Stadium on 5th March.

He shared fullback duties with Lachlan Maranta and Jordan Kahu when the Broncos, who are 9/1 to win the grand final, returned to pre-season training on Monday.

So far, he has been regarded as a utility player – he played five-eighth at the Auckland Nines, and split his time in Brisbane’s run to the NYC grand final between that role and fullback.

“It was my first time playing fullback last year so I grew to like that position,” he said. “Wayne doesn’t really say much, but he just said that everything is up for grabs so it’s the one who wants it the most.

“I’ve put on an extra kilo that should be handy this year hopefully. If the opportunity comes (to play fullback) I’ll take it with both hands. If not, I’ll just keep working hard and try to make my way into the 17.”

Sam Thaiday said the Broncos had good depth at fullback, with Justin Hodges able to slot back into the role as he did at the end of last season.

Thaiday added: “It makes training competitive and it makes Wayne’s job hard to pick players in those positions but it’s a good problem to have when you’ve got too many players of great quality.”

The Broncos are 10.00 to win the NRL Grand Final and the Rabbitohs can be backed at 6.00.

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