Kodi Nikorima is taking a philosophical attitude to his current situation at the Warriors, after being ousted from the halves by Chanel Harris-Tavita.

The Kiwi international is on the interchange bench for the season opener against the Knights on Saturday (5pm NZT), after the 20-year-old Harris-Tavita was selected to start alongside Blake Green.

It's a far cry from the situation last May, when Nikorima was signed from Brisbane and parachuted straight into the team at No 6.

He was seen as the perfect foil beside Green, and had opted to come to Auckland because his halves prospects at the Broncos were uncertain, with the emergence of Tom Deardon.


Nikorima showed glimpses of his best form, particularly against the Dragons and the Sharks (in Wellington), though struggled amidst the general downturn at the club last season.

But with 100 NRL games, as well as 15 tests, behind him, you wouldn't blame Nikorima for being resentful about his demotion, but he is pragmatic.

Nikorima's versatility is both a blessing and a curse. Photo / Photosport
Nikorima's versatility is both a blessing and a curse. Photo / Photosport

"Obviously I want to be there in the halves but I also want to win games," Nikorima told the Herald. "If the coaches believe that putting me at hooker or coming off the bench and playing wherever is best for the team that is what we will do."

From his perspective, coach Stephen Kearney said Nikorima had responded well to the news.

"When you don't make your preferred position I'm picking there would always be disappointment," said Kearney. "But Kodi understands that it is what we think is best for the footy team and the team always comes first."

Nikorima is remarkably versatile.

He has plenty of experience in the halves, and was the Kiwis' best player at halfback in the 2018 series against England.

But he's also a superb dummy half option, with blinding acceleration and a crisp, sure pass off both sides.


At a pinch he could probably also wear the No 1 jersey, after starring at fullback for the Broncos under-20 side as they went all the way to the 2011 Holden Cup final.

Like former Warriors utility Lance Hohaia, such widespread proficiency can be an asset and a curse.

"Maybe I did it to myself," laughed Nikorima. "Being able to play so many positions. [The Knights] have a similar player in Connor Watson. It's good for us, teams need us…that is always a positive."

It means Nikorima remains open minded about his possible options in 2020.

Kodi Nikorima had a mixed season as the Warriors struggled for consistency in 2019. Photo / Photosport
Kodi Nikorima had a mixed season as the Warriors struggled for consistency in 2019. Photo / Photosport

"I'll play wherever," said Nikorima. "You have to think like that, especially in team environments. Greenie could go down so I might have to go in there. We might lose hookers again, so I might have to go in there. But the position where I won't go is wing. I've played there twice, and got scored on both times."

Like the rest of the squad, Nikorima was enthused by the pre-season, particular the different approach taken by new head trainer Craig Twentyman, with an emphasis on speed and sharpness and more conditioning work with the ball.


"There was a lot of hard work we put in behind the scenes but also a lot of hard work with the footy," said Nikorima. "Hopefully we can showcase that on the weekend, otherwise it all means nothing in the end."

When asked what needs to be different at the Warriors this year, Nikorima pinpointed attitude and desire.

"It's about making sure we don't get out-enthused by any other team, or out-energised and we are competing on every play," said Nikorima. "We may not be the best or the biggest or the fastest or the most skilful [team] but one thing we don't want to get beaten on is our effort.

"Especially in those close games, where we let slip . . . [it's about] being better in those little moments. That's what we have talked about in pre-season, winning those moments and competing in general."

The Warriors have a positive recent record against the Knights, with six victories from the last eight encounters dating back to 2015, though they will be the underdogs on Saturday, especially given the relative strengths of the two forward packs.