BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 05: Kodi Nikorima catches the ball during a Brisbane Broncos NRL training session on September 5, 2017 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

THE HEAT IS ON: Kodi Nikorima

With Ben Hunt taking a huge offer to move to the St George Illawarra Dragons this year, the Broncos will need Kodi Nikorima to step up and fill the vacant halfback role.

Nikorima gained some experience in the No. 7 jersey last year when Hunt was out injured, guiding the team to five straight wins before Hunt returned and Nikorima found himself back on the bench.

Predominantly a bench player for his 57 games since his promotion from the baby Broncos NYC cup team, Nikorima has floated between the halves and fullback and has been a spark in the Broncos attack when given game time.

Wayne Bennett essentially has his third choice playing at halfback this year after Hunt left and missing out on signing former Bronco Ash Taylor. It is not often Wayne doesn’t get his man.

Nikorima needs to become an 80-minute player and steer the side around in 2018. As a sub, he has shown his skill and exciting attacking play. As an 80-minute player, he will need to continue to attack while being targeted in defence by big men all game.

His job will be made easier with the dynamic Anthony Milford playing alongside him in the halves. The combination between the two will be vital and each needs to be at their best for the Broncos to be a threat in 2018.

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BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – MAY 14: Anthony Milford of the Broncos celebrates after scoring a try with Kodi Nikorima of the Broncos during the round 10 NRL match between the Manly Sea Eagles and the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium on May 14, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

The fear is that Nikorima and Milford are very similar players with more instinct than structure. Therefore, it is paramount that roles are clarified so they don’t get in each other’s way.

Nikorima holds the key and it is by no coincidence that Kevin Walters has returned to the Broncos coaching staff this year. Walters had previous success moulding Milford and Hunt and with his grooming the pair helped the Broncos to a Grand Final in 2015.

Walters role is to make Nikorima a true No. 7. Bennett as we know doesn’t leave anything for chance. Although he wasn’t able to keep Hunt and missed out on Taylor, he will have Nikorima prepared for not only Round 1 but for the season.

It is important that Bennett doesn’t give into temptation to move Nikorima to cover positions within game situations. Pick and stick is the way to get the best out of Nikorima. The local derby will hold more meaning for Nikorima this year and I’m sure he will want to get one over on Ash Taylor and the Titans to throw it back to those who doubted him.

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The Broncos have lost a few significant players to other teams in the offseason and have only Jack Bird to come in. The Broncos look vulnerable and a lack of depth in the halves is a worry. If Milford or Nikorima are out for any period of time they will struggle.

At times in 2017 the Broncos struggled to break the line in tight games. That is where Nikorima must take control of the team as the halfback and with Kevin Walters returning as assistant coach, he will get the Broncos attack back on track.

With James Roberts out wide and Darius Boyd up the centre, the Broncos have try-scoring threats all over the park. It will Nikorima’s job to get them the ball and I predict he will have a breakout year and make the No. 7 jersey his own.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 22: Kodi Nikorima of the Broncos celebrates scoring a try during the round eight NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Suncorp Stadium on April 22, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Can Kodi Nikorima steer the Broncos to a Premiership? The Bennett/Walters combination has a long history of winning. With a spine of Boyd, Milford, Nikorima and McCullough, write them off at your own cost.

What do you think how will Kodi Nikorima go at halfback this year?

5 COMMENTS

  1. I really don’t rate Brisbane for this year and Jack Bird will be the biggest waste of doe.

    • Spot on Neville, Brisbane Donkies have had there day and Bird is highly overrated I cant believe the bloke who is called a super coach which he isn’t, went so hard to sign this mug. The only thing I can see is Nikorima stays on the bench as utility Bird to 5/8 Milford to half. Either way they are stuffed. Bird wont want to act to tough with a reconstructed shoulder.

  2. I think the improvements the Broncos have made to their forward pack in the off season, should stand the club in better stead in 2018 (if Bennett actually gives the likes of Lodge and Taueli sufficient minutes of the field and affords Ofahengaue more opportunities). That said, with the defensive deficiencies on the Broncos’ edges (second row – Gillet and Glenn – and halves – Milford and Nikorima) likely to be unresolved and potentially exacerbated with the deployment of the flimsy Bird in one of centre positions, I envisage Broncos premiership drought continuing in 2018.

    • I don’t follow the Broncos closely, to say the very least, but weren’t your only pick ups (forward wise) Lodge and Tagatese? I wouldn’t have thought that was anything special, and you lost a few too.

      Anyway, I think it’s time for a new coach. I just looked at a “predicted round 1 lineup”, and know that in itself doesn’t necessarily mean a lot, but there’s a lot of “pretty average” (at FG level), and not a lot of reasons for players to defer holiday plans until October.

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