Teammates shocked by Nikorima’s whirlwind exit
Brisbane stars have spoken of their shock at Kodi Nikorima's sudden departure from the club as the Broncos discard prepares for a Magic Round return to Suncorp Stadium.
In a whirlwind fortnight for Nikorima, the Kiwi Test playmaker will make his Warriors debut against the Dragons on Saturday night - just days after securing a formal release from the Broncos.
Twenty-four hours before Nikorima runs out for the Warriors, he will be on Brisbane soil watching his former Broncos teammates take on the Sea Eagles.
Nikorima's swift exit from Red Hill has rocked Broncos players.
The 25-year-old was one of the club's most popular players and Brisbane top-liners were confident Nikorima could forge a long-term scrumbase alliance with five-eighth Anthony Milford.
Since his NRL debut in 2015, Nikorima compiled 86 first-grade games for the Broncos and veteran back-rower Matt Gillett admits he wasn't expecting the pint-sized halfback to leave mid-season.
"The whole time I have been here, Kodi has been a close friend to many of us," Gillett said.
"It's not ideal to lose Kodi halfway through the year and stuff like that, but the opportunity came up for him (at the Warriors) and he has taken that and taken responsibility for his decision.
"I guess he has done the right thing by himself and his family.
"The club allowed him to go and he was committed to going over there.
"We just have to focus on what we have at the club now and go from there."
Nikorima was under the impression he was locked in as Brisbane's halfback for the entire 2019 campaign.
But when coach Anthony Seibold told Nikorima before last week's 38-6 loss to Souths that he could not guarantee his future beyond next year, when his contract was due to expire, the Broncos No.7 opted for more security at the Warriors.
The Broncos have now farewelled three grand-final campaigners - Josh McGuire, Jordan Kahu and Nikorima - in five months, the type of experience skipper Darius Boyd says the club can't afford to lose.
"It's hard on the current roster because we lack experience," Boyd said.
"We let Ash Taylor go a few years ago and you look at things now and think we are missing another halfback (following Nikorima's departure).
"But that's what the salary cap does. Other clubs will see value in those guys, not that we didn't see value in them, but for whatever reason the club went in a different way."
Former Broncos skipper Gorden Tallis believes Nikorima was a scapegoat for Brisbane's dismal 2-6 start to the season.
"When Ben Hunt left (for the Dragons), the Broncos didn't replace him and they thought he (Nikorima) was the man to do the job," Tallis said.
"I feel a bit sorry for him. I've felt sorry for the halves because their forward pack has been getting outplayed all year.
"Tom Dearden (Nikorima's replacement) has to learn on the run now and he is probably two years away from where Kodi was as a player."