Debut icing on cake for young Bronco
It's been a dizzying 12 months for young Brisbane Broncos utility Kodi Nikorima, who is poised to make his representative debut for New Zealand against England next month.
The pain of last Saturday's gut-wrenching 17-16 golden-point epic grand final loss to North Queensland was eased somewhat for the Palmerston North-born 21-year-old (pictured) after he was named as part of Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney's 23-man tour squad.
Nikorima, who played for the Aspley Devils before he and his brother Jayden were signed by Brisbane for the NYC Under20s side, has played for both the Kangaroos and Junior Kiwis.
Jayden has been signed by the Roosters, while Kodi elected to stay with Brisbane and played in his first grand final last weekend.
Kearney has a serious shortage of quality halves with both Shaun Johnson and Kieran Foran unavailable, but Nikorima and highly-talented Warriors youngster Tuimoala Lolohea will bring plenty of energy and excitement.
"With the loss of both Kieran and Shaun it certainly pushes 'Tui' (Lolohea) into a position where there's every chance he'll be making his Test debut for the Kiwis," Kearney said. "I know he'll handle it fairly easily in the sense that he doesn't lack confidence."
Nikorima's Brisbane teammate Jordan Kahu also gets a call-up, alongside Bulldogs winger Curtis Rona and Roosters forwards Isaac Liu and Sio Siua Taukeiaho.
The first Test is at Hull on November 1.