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Benji feels for dumped Bronco Nikorima

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/05/2017

Benji Marshall of the Dragons. © Matt Blyth/Getty Images Benji Marshall of the Dragons. Benji Marshall admits he feels for Kodi Nikorima, with the in-form half forced out of Brisbane's starting side for Saturday's NRL match against the Warriors in Auckland.

Nikorima has been a key to the Broncos' six-game unbeaten run, stepping up at halfback in the absence of Ben Hunt (hamstring).

But Hunt's return this weekend from his six-week sideline stint and the absence of hooker Andrew McCullough (concussion) has forced a reshuffle that has relegated Nikorima to bench utility status.

Marshall will make his starting debut for Brisbane after being named alongside Hunt in the halves.

"I feel very lucky to play this week," Marshall told Broncos TV.

"With Macca (McCullough) being out, we have had to move Kodi into a bit of a hooker role (off the bench).

"I think Kodi has been in form playing in the halves, so he is pretty unlucky to not retain that spot."

Eyebrows might have been raised when Brisbane signed 32-year-old Marshall on a one-year deal.

But the former Kiwi captain hoped to prove his worth during Brisbane's difficult State of Origin period, starting against the Warriors.

The Broncos will be without six players this weekend due to Origin selection.

"I think I can bring a bit of calm and experience to a team that has lost some experience, and that is my goal this week," Marshall said.

He also hoped to recapture some of his former spark with the ball.

"I will try and put my stamp on the game," Marshall said.

"Playing five-eighth again gives me a good opportunity to focus on my running game and let Ben control the team."

Marshall said he was chuffed coach Wayne Bennett had given him a chance to step up during Origin.

"On a personal note, I have been asking for this time to get an opportunity to play my preferred position," he said.

"Hopefully, I can make an impression, not try and be 'the man' on the field, just play my game and, hopefully, run the footy a bit more and get a win for the boys."

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