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Nicoll-Klokstad solid on Warriors debut

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 30/04/2017 Angelo Risso

Young Warriors utility Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad took to the NRL like a duck to water in his debut on Sunday, helping his side defeat the Roosters 14-13. © Hannah Peters/Getty Images Young Warriors utility Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad took to the NRL like a duck to water in his debut on Sunday, helping his side defeat the Roosters 14-13. At 2am on Friday morning, a restless Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad lay wide awake, likely staring at his bedroom ceiling.

He had just been called up to the Warriors first-grade squad for an NRL debut, on home turf, against a Roosters squad stacked with backline talent.

Turns out, he need not have worried.

The 21-year-old utility made an assured debut on Sunday night as his Warriors outfit pinched a late 14-13 win over their opponents at Mount Smart Stadium.

Playing the full 80 on the wing, Nicoll-Klokstad made seven tackles and was confident under the high ball, helping to negate the influence of opponent Blake Ferguson.

He even zigzagged over the line for what would've been a maiden NRL try, only to be pulled back for an earlier infringement by centre David Fusitu'a.

Of Maori, Cook Islands and Norwegian descent, the Auckland-born Nicoll-Klokstad has been a star of the side's NSW Cup team since joining from Melbourne in 2016 - yet the step up to first-grade rugby league was even more difficult than he expected.

"It's something that I'll cherish and hopefully I'll get a bit more game time, to try to adapt to that sort of speed," Nicoll-Klokstad told reporters.

"This is by far the hardest game I've ever played.

"I thought I was alright, there's still stuff I'm quite critical on - like my one-on-ones, I could've done a bit better in that area - but I'm stoked we got the two points."

Head coach Stephen Kearney had backed Nicoll-Klokstad to make the NRL grade earlier in the week, and said he wasn't disappointed by what he saw.

As the minutes ticked away and the match grew increasingly fraught, Nicoll-Klokstad had stepped up to the plate, getting involved, trying to spark an attack.

Yet despite his performance, and the side's late victory via a Shaun Johnson penalty goal, Kearney made no guarantees that Nicoll-Klokstad would play again in a fortnight, when the Warriors take on Penrith.

"He was wonderful today for a young man, he didn't look out of place out there," Kearney said.

"I didn't have that expectation, of him performing that well.

"He exceeded what I thought he was capable of."

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