2 May 2019

Opinion: Is Nikorima the right fit for the Warriors?

9:07 am on 2 May 2019

Opinion - The Warriors - they'll always give you something to talk about.

Kodi Nikorima.

Kodi Nikorima. Photo: Photosport

A week after Stephen Kearney either completely forgot that Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Blake Green were injured or just tried to pull a fast one on the team naming, the narrative has swiftly transitioned into the club making a major signing over the past few days.

Kodi Nikorima is reportedly returning to the land of his birth to play for the first club in his life not called the Brisbane Broncos, a move which six months ago would've been greeted with praise by fans and media.

That's because in December, Shaun Johnson had just left, and the last game Nikorima had played in was a stunning man-of-the-match performance for the Kiwis in a 34-0 win over England.

But does the logic of bringing in a new halfback hold up now, seven weeks into the season?

Well, something has to change. The Warriors' start to the season has been disappointing, however blaming it on the men who have worn the six and seven jerseys so far is a bit of a stretch.

Australian import Adam Keighran has seemingly come to and from reserve grade permanently despite a stunning debut, while fellow countryman Green has been hit with aforementioned injuries.

Chanel Harris-Tavita has looked like a solid investment in the future and hasn't done anything wrong, while stand-in five eighth Tohu Harris almost engineered a shock win over the Storm on Anzac Day.

Warriors playmaker Chanel Harris-Tavita.

Chanel Harris-Tavita has played solidly when he was in the Warriors' halves, but it appears that's come to an end, for now. Photo: Andrew Cornaga/Photosport

So it seemed as though the problem of replacing Johnson, a man seemingly so integral to the success of the club, was one of the few this season that was solving itself. It's obvious the Warriors saw an opportunity and jumped on it.

It's an opportunity because right now, if there's one club that actually does have problems in their halves, it's the Broncos.

New coach Anthony Seibold has barely got anything out of Nikorima and Anthony Milford so far this season, and hasn't waited long to start ushering one of them to the door.

Nikorima is in line to be replaced by 18-year-old Tom Dearden as early as tonight for the Broncos game against South Sydney, which sees Seibold and Wayne Bennett going head to head in charge of the opposite teams they coached last season.

The Warriors are reportedly giving Nikorima three times as much as he was getting in Brisbane, which probably says more about how much salary cap room they have more than anything else.

But Nikorima's flat form so far in 2019 will have more than a few people questioning if he is actually worth all that money, especially for a three year deal.

Then there's the issue of where this leaves Harris-Tavita. He'll now be told to sit it out back in the reserve grade side for another two seasons, before Green either retires or moves on at the end of his contract.

It has an unfortunately familiar feeling to what happened to Tuimoala Lolohea a few seasons ago, which resulted in him exiting the club for the Wests Tigers, then scoring the match-winning try against the Warriors when the two sides next met.

Plus, with Harris-Tavita and Keighran now out, the Warriors have their two best goal kickers in the club now taking shots exclusively for the reserve grade side.

The next goal kicking option is Issac Luke, who is no longer an 80-minute player, indeed no longer an automatic selection himself.

It's fair to say Nikorima and Kearney will have to overcome some scepticism for this move, even though on his day the 25-year-old halfback is capable of match-winning performances.

But remember, this is the Warriors, so by this time next week we may well be talking about something completely different.

For their sake, let's hope it's a win.

*Frustration at his own shortcomings as a rugby player and multiple concussions have left Jamie with an innate ability to find fault with rules, players, matches and sporting bodies alike.

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