I love playing there: Nikorima wants role long term
BRONCOS halfback Kodi Nikorima says he is determined to prove to coach Wayne Bennett he can be Brisbane's long-term answer at No.7.
Nikorima will start at halfback for the third straight week when the Broncos face Parramatta at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night.
The Kiwi Test playmaker was given a guarantee by Bennett that he would be Brisbane's halfback for the year early in the season.
But when the Broncos beat the Warriors in New Zealand in round six while he was sidelined with a corked thigh, Nikorima was relegated to a bench utility role upon his return.
After Cronulla recruit Jack Bird failed to fire in the halves, Nikorima returned as five-eighth Anthony Milford's scrumbase partner.
And now the pint-sized 24-year-old wants to prove his critics wrong and remain at halfback for the remainder of the season.
"I love playing there," Nikorima said.
"The more Milf and I and Macca (hooker Andrew McCullough) can stay on the field together and keep working on combos, I have no doubt we can only get better.
"I spoke to Wayne about (losing the No. 7). I agreed with him at the time.
"They went over and played the Warriors and did a good job. He didn't want to change too much there.
"To be back playing 80 minutes, I'm really loving it."
Nikorima entered the season with the weight of expectation on his shoulders.
There is plenty of pressure that comes with wearing the Broncos No. 7 jersey made famous by Allan Langer.
In his 65 NRL games, Nikorima has flourished the most as a dynamic bench utility who can split tired defences.
But he wants to prove he can be the answer to Brisbane's halfback conundrum.
"I'm my hardest critic," he said.
"I can take criticism if it's fair, but to be honest I put the most pressure on myself. I know when I have a good or bad game.
"The only (critic) I would listen to is Wayne. That's the only criticism I'll take.
"I don't read or look into too much of what's happening on the outside. I worry about myself, talk to my coaches and team.
"I'm doing all the training and it's about putting that practice into work on the weekend."
The Broncos will be without Test lock Josh McGuire for the clash against the last-placed Eels after he failed a fitness test on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
Kiwi back Jordan Kahu will make his return from a broken jaw and the Broncos are looking for their fourth win in five games before heading into a much-needed bye before Origin I.
Back-rower Jaydn Su'a said the Broncos were a more dangerous team when their halfback was on song.
"He's got a great running game," Su'A said of Nikorima.
"When he is confident he takes the line on and that's when he's at his best.
"When he is confident, him and Milly (Milford) have a good connection. We're hard to beat when they are on."
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