Nikorima on the Broncos chopping block
KODI Nikorima is fighting to save his career as Brisbane's No. 7 with Wayne Bennett considering axing the Test playmaker - just a fortnight after guaranteeing him the halfback spot all season.
The super coach could be forced into a Bennett backflip after watching his new halves pairing of Anthony Milford and Jack Bird engineer a Warriors boilover in Auckland on Saturday night.
Nikorima missed the 27-18 victory due to a corked thigh, with the successful Bird-Milford alliance leaving him in danger of being demoted for Friday night's blockbuster against the Storm at Suncorp Stadium.
Bennett has consistently stated that Nikorima is Brisbane's first-choice No. 7, but Bird's solid showing at five-eighth could convince the coach to stick with the team that stunned the Warriors.
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Nikorima is expected to be cleared to return against the Storm. It leaves Bennett two options - demoting him to a supersub role on the bench, or reinstating Nikorima at halfback and returning Bird to a role at left centre.
In the wake of Brisbane's gutsy defeat of the Warriors, halfback great and respected Fox Sports commentator Greg Alexander called for Bennett to stick with the Bird-Milford scrumbase union.
However, Brisbane skipper Darius Boyd urged Bennett to keep the faith with Nikorima, saying the Kiwi Test livewire deserves to retain the No. 7 jumper made famous by Broncos icon Allan Langer.
"It will be Wayne's decision I guess but Kodi is a good player and just because of one win I don't see why things should change," Boyd said.
"Kodi has won games at halfback for us, too, but it's a question Wayne will have to answer.
"I don't think it's Kodi's fault that we've had an indifferent start to the season. Our forwards haven't helped him and one win shouldn't put pressure on him.
"I'd like to see Kodi back in the halves this week, but the coach will make the final call."
Bennett's decision will also be tactical. The Broncos coach will study footage of the premiers on Monday to help determine his halves against the Storm team that sent Brisbane crashing out of the title race last year with a 30-0 drubbing.
The Storm have a monster pack led by 200cm monster Nelson Asofa-Solomona and they have previously targeted the 174cm Nikorima in defence.
Bird is a bigger body than Nikorima in the frontline, with Boyd praising the NSW Origin utility's effort at five-eighth in just his fourth game for the Broncos.
"Jack was really impressive," Boyd said.
"He came into the halves pretty late (when Nikorima was ruled out) - it wouldn't have been easy for him.
"Jack is new at our club and he'd only played three games for us coming into the five-eighth role.
"He did his job, he stayed on the ball and when he was needed in defence, he was very solid."