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Nikorima to stake NZ league claim

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 28/04/2016 Laine Clark

Kodi Nikorima © Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images Kodi Nikorima He is no guarantee of graduating from the bench for an injury-hit Brisbane this weekend.

But Kodi Nikorima is hoping to state a case for the New Zealand starting side in the Broncos' NRL clash at Cronulla on Sunday.

Nikorima was named at No.9 by the ladder leaders in place of the injured Andrew McCullough but admitted Wayne Bennett had not confirmed what role he would play against the Sharks.

Bench selection Travis Waddell is a chance of making his Broncos debut in the starting side as Bennett contemplates a way to replace McCullough (hamstring) who is out for up to six weeks.

"I am not too sure yet. It doesn't bother me - I don't mind coming off the bench," the 22-year-old Nikorima said.

Whether he starts or not, Nikorima believes the stage is set for him to launch a last gasp Kiwi selection bid.

The New Zealand team to play Australia in Friday week's Test in Newcastle will be named on Sunday night.

Nikorima made his Kiwi debut in the opening Test of last year's three-match series in England.

By game two he was the starting halfback, sparking a series-equalling win before England won the decider 20-14.

England claimed their first series against New Zealand since 2007 but Nikorima returned a more confident player.

"You have those star players in the Kiwi side," Nikorima said.

"Seeing how professional they are, that has helped me coming back here.

"From round one (this year) I was more confident.

"It would be a huge honour just to put that black jersey on again."

Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney just so happens to be the Brisbane assistant.

Asked if he had been in Kearney's ear about a recall, Nikorima laughed: "Yeah, always."

Either way the off-contract Nikorima believes McCullough's unfortunate injury has set a platform for him to stake a claim for a new Broncos deal.

"I have been here since I was 12. They developed me," he said.

"I owe a lot to the club. But we know this is a business."

Sam Thaiday is set to fill the starting prop vacancy created by Adam Blair's one week ban for dangerous contact.

Alex Glenn (hip) returns to slot into the starting second row and Herman Ese'ese is set to be added to the bench.

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