The Broncos career of half, hooker and fullback option Kodi Nikorima has come to an end, with the player being granted an immediate release from his contract to join the New Zealand Warriors.
A graduate of the Broncos’ youth academy, Nikorima has, so far this season, been the Broncos’ eighth most productive productive player amongst the club’s halves and hooker options (second worst) and the sixth most productive player amongst the club’s 21 prospective fullback options.
While averaging a respectable 1 line break assist, and 106 kicking metres per game this season, Nikorima’s inability to consistently break the opposition’s defensive line individually (0 line breaks per match), his non-existent short kicking game (0 forced drop outs per game) and porous defence (4 missed tackles per match) were simply not good enough. Given the comparatively superior performances of Tom Dearden and Sean O’Sullivan, in particular, the Broncos decision not to release the Kiwi native is a justifiable one.
With Nikorima gone, the key challenge for the Seibold and Broncos for the remainder of the 2019 season, is whether the coach and club are willing to based their week to week team selection decisions on the on-field performances of their contracted players (e.g. Fifita, Hopoate, Carrigan, Dearden, O’Sullivan, Shibasaki, etc) and not simply on the players’ reputation or length of service at the club (e.g. Milford, Bird, McCullough, Gillett, Glenn, etc).
It’s a challenge that Bennett was not able to overcome and it’s a change in practice that will go along way to determining whether the Broncos will be competitive for the remainder of the 2019 season.