Kodi Nikorima will be the Broncos’ chief playmaker when the 2018 NRL season begins.Kodi Nikorima will pick the brain of Kevin Walters as he aims to fill the void left by Ben Hunt’s Brisbane Broncos NRL exit.
The 23-year-old has been given first crack at making the No.7 jersey his own by Broncos coach Wayne Bennett after a casual occupation of the halves last season and has identified his kicking game and on-field communication as areas that need work.
Nikorima was not able to quell debate around his position last season despite Brisbane winning 11 of 13 games when he started at halfback.
But Bennett chose not to go to market, instead entrusting the New Zealand international with the role in 2018.
Nikorima says the addition of Queensland coach Walters as a Broncos assistant will help him nail down the spot after Hunt’s big-money move to St George Illawarra.
“Kev is a prankster, has a bit of fun but has a serious side too and has been good for me and the others halves going through here,” he said.
“Hopefully that shows going forward this year.
“It’s great for my preparation to train in the one position, compared to the last couple of years filling in at half, hooker, fullback, wing.”
Walters was vocal while taking charge of Monday’s opposed session, with Nikorima pulling the strings on the right side of attack.
But the playmaker was noticeably chirpy too, something he says he has tried to add to his game this season.
“I started last year on tour (with New Zealand during the World Cup), thinking about my role in the side and what I can do,” Nikorima said.
“Obviously Benny Hunt’s left a big hole in the this team and what he brought was his talk and his kicking game.
“That’s one thing I’ve been working very hard on throughout the preseason … for some reason I can’t shut up now.”
Nikorima won’t play in Saturday’s trial game against Queensland Cup side Central Queensland Capras in Theodore, but plans to play against the Gold Coast Titans and PNG Hunters later this month.
Broncos captain Darius Boyd completed some skills work and fitness drills away from the main group on Monday, while Andrew McCullough (knee) and Anthony Milford (shoulder) were with the main group as they continued their recovery from respective surgeries.