Warriors coach Stephen Kearney has confirmed that Kodi Nikorima will play as a hooker against the Roosters on Sunday.
It's a back to the future move for the Kiwis half, who was used at dummy half for much of his early NRL career, and a vote of confidence in incumbent five-eighth Chanel Harris-Tavita.
Nikorima's involvement in the match at the Sydney Cricket Ground (4pm NZT) is still contingent on how he comes through the Warriors' remaining training sessions this week (Thursday and Saturday) but the signs are good.
The 25-year-old took part in an extended session on Wednesday, moving well on the ankle injury that has troubled him for the last month.
Nikorima was injured in the act of scoring against Sharks in round 18, then aggravated the injury early in the Raiders clash two weeks ago.
"He wasn't too bad today," said Kearney. "We will get an assessment and see how he goes on Thursday. At this stage I would look at him coming off the bench for us. I would anticipate him coming on at dummy half."
Nikorima's likely use at hooker is a sign of Harris-Tavita's growing status at the club. In the past the Warriors may have looked to rush Nikorima back into the halves as soon as possible, but there is faith that the 20-year-old can do the job, even against the reigning premiers.
It's also a nod to the hooking crisis at the club, with Nathaniel Roache and Karl Lawton out with injury and Issac Luke suspended.
Nikorima is an experienced NRL hooker, and one of the best runners from dummy half in the competition. He played 20 matches in 2016 and 16 in 2017 as a utility option off the bench, usually as a back-up hooker.
Nikorima wants to play in the halves – that was one of the reasons why he left Red Hill – and remains the frontline option as Harris-Tavita continues to build his game, but the competition is positive for the club.
"Chanel's been ticking along okay," said Kearney. "He has executed his job, which is what we want to do. [It's a] big challenge this week, another big challenge next week. That's the NRL. With Chanel that's what he has to get used to and it's all part of his development."
Captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has been highly impressed with the Pakuranga junior, who made his debut in round four this season.
"He stands up in moments, for a young player he keeps on turning up," said Tuivasa-Sheck. "He always wants to learn and is always putting his hand up to learn different things. No matter where he gets put – he was in at hooker a couple of weeks ago – he just turns up and gets his job done."
After a sharp contrast in performances over the last two weeks, Tuivasa-Sheck hopes the impressive 24-16 win over the Sea Eagles last Friday has set a template.
"I spoke to the boys about how we can be such a different team if we come out here with the right intent and that is what we have working on," said Tuivasa-Sheck. "I believe so much in these guys and it's frustrating when we don't bring it each week and that is the challenge for us each week, it's about bringing our best."