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Nicoll-Klokstad backed to make NRL grade

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 28/04/2017 Angelo Risso

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad has the quality, consistency and work ethic to crack the NRL big time, according to Warriors boss Stephen Kearney. © Hannah Peters/Getty Images Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad has the quality, consistency and work ethic to crack the NRL big time, according to Warriors boss Stephen Kearney. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad has the quality, consistency and work ethic to crack the NRL big time, according to Warriors boss Stephen Kearney.

The 21-year-old utility has been named on the right wing for Sunday's clash with the Roosters in Auckland, where he will make his senior NRL debut.

Of Maori, Cook Islands and Norwegian descent, the Aucklander is a lifelong Warriors fan and a standout in their NSW Cup side, earning the club's NSW Cup player of the year gong in 2016 and helping the side to an unbeaten early 2017 campaign.

He comes into the squad in place of Solomone Kata, who will miss up to a fortnight with a hamstring strain, with Blake Ayshford moving from wing to centre.

Tuimoala Lolohea, who started the season on the right edge, has again been omitted from the first-grade squad and will play in the NSW Cup.

Ken Maumalo and David Fusitu'a retain their respective backline roles.

"I said right at the start that I'll be rewarding performance - that's why Charnze is making his debut, he's been the most consistent player for the (NSW Cup) team," Kearney said.

"He trained really well in the off-season and during the last six to eight weeks, (so) that's why he gets an opportunity."

Nicoll-Klokstad played his junior rugby league in central Auckland before transferring to the Melbourne Storm youth squad in 2014.

He played in the Victorian capital for two seasons, winning the Melbourne's 2014 NYC back of the year award, before returning to the City of Sails in 2016.

He has also made one appearance for the Cook Islands in 2015.

Star halfback Shaun Johnson said Nicoll-Klokstad's story spoke volumes of his desire to break into first-grade NRL contention.

"I always see him doing his little extras, always learning - I love to see that being rewarded," Johnson told reporters.

"Haven't played with him (yet) but I've seen his work ethic and if that's anything to go off, he's a pretty special kid."

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