Word out of the Warriors is that Kodi Nikorima has got his swagger back, and his former Broncos teammates know that means trouble.
Just three weeks after being granted a release to take up a lucrative contract in Auckland, Nikorima lines up against Brisbane on the back of two straight wins with his new club and a spring in his step.
Many of the game’s great halves had a cheeky streak in them that both endeared them to teammates and infuriated the opposition players that were made to look silly.
After a win against the Dragons at his old stomping ground at Suncorp Stadium during Magic Round, Nikorima delivered some dazzling footwork to score his first try as a Warrior last week against the Panthers, busting a couple of tackles in the process on his way to an equal game-high seven tackle breaks.
As he prepares to make his mark in front of his new fan-base on home soil for the first time, Broncos back-rower Alex Glenn is expecting Nikorima to have something special in the kit bag for his old side.
"I've been constantly texting him and ‘Blairy’ [Adam Blair] since Kodi's gone over there,” Glenn revealed.
Nikorima shows and goes
“Apparently Kodi's been carrying on over there, walking around like he's been there for 10 years.
“He's fitted in very well but it's going to be very different, like the first time I played Jordan [Kahu].
"Kodi's been playing some great football for the Warriors, they've got two wins as well under him so his tyres will be pumped up over there.
“He'll be looking forward to a big performance against us.”
Told by Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold that Tom Dearden was viewed as the Broncos’ long-term No.7, Nikorima was given permission to accept a lucrative contract through until the end of the 2021 season.
First signed as a 13-year-old, the now 25-year-old left Red Hill with 86 games to his credit over the course of five years.
Broncos forward Matt Gillett admits it will be an unusual experience to stand opposite him on Saturday at Mt Smart Stadium.
“Kodi was here for a long time and he did the whole pre-season so it's going to be a weird feeling seeing him in a Warriors jersey,” Gillett said.
“I'm against him in attack, so it will be different. We know how each other plays, so that's a strength we can take into this game.
“He has been playing pretty good for the Warriors, he has picked up their structures and the way they play with Blake Green.
“Kodi has a good running game and he can really split you open like he did against Penrith. We have to watch him.”
Tackle of the week: Round 10
Buoyed by back-to-back wins over their own including a gritty last start 15-10 win over the defending premiers the Sydney Roosters, Gillett said the challenge now before them is to bring a similar intensity each and every week.
“We showed up from the first kick-off, we aimed up defensively and our tries came off the back of running hard and supporting; there weren't any flashy plays,” said Gillett, who will almost certainly be named in Kevin Walters’ Queensland team for Game One.
“If we come out and compete hard with them we give ourselves a good chance.
“They got off to good leads in their wins so we knew as a group if we stuck tight, we'd give ourselves a good chance at the back-end of the game.
“The way we played is something we have do every week moving forward.”