Warriors sign Nikorima in three-year deal

Brisbane Broncos halfback Kodi Nikorima could sign with the Warriors. Photo: Getty Images
Kodi Nikorima. Photo: Getty Images
The Warriors believe their patience in replacing Shaun Johnson has paid off after securing Kodi Nikorima on a three-season NRL deal which begins immediately.

Test halfback Nikorima has ended more than seven seasons of service at the Brisbane Broncos after being granted early release to sign a contract that concludes in 2021.

The 25-year-old will arrive in Auckland this weekend and is poised to make his Warriors debut during next week's Magic Round in Brisbane, when they face St George Illawarra.

Warriors chief executive Cameron George hailed the deal after the club had decided against rushing for an immediate substitute for Johnson when the long-serving playmaker left suddenly for Cronulla over the off-season.

They had earmarked Nikorima as a target for 2020 but offered an earlier move to the Palmerston North-born player, reportedly valued at $500,000 a year.

"We couldn't be more excited to secure a player of Kodi's calibre, especially at this stage of the season," George said.

"We've been patient in watching the player market for some time. Peter O'Sullivan and our recruitment team have done a terrific job in securing Kodi, who will certainly add value to our club."

Warriors general manager football Brian Smith said Nikorima's signing not only boosted their current squad but he would also be an important figure in the future development of young halves Chanel Harris-Tavita and Adam Keighran.

Nikorima will be in the stands when the Warriors face Newcastle at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday and will then probably link with veteran Blake Green against the Dragons, leaving no room for Harris-Tavita.

Nikorima joined the Broncos as a junior in 2012 and played 86 first grade games after a 2015 debut.

Initially regarded as a utility, he nailed down the starting halfback role last year but earned his share of criticism for failing to manage games in a Broncos team struggling for consistency.

His final game was last Saturday's 29-6 win over Cronulla, with coach Anthony Seibold choosing to omit Nikorima from Thursday's 38-6 flogging at the hands of South Sydney while the player considered his future.

The 13-Test veteran said he welcomed the prospect of a fresh start working under Warriors coach Stephen Kearney, who handed him a Kiwis Test debut in 2015.

"I like the direction the club is heading in and it will also be good to be around a lot of familiar faces, both the coaches and team-mates," he said.

"I also want to thank the Broncos for the opportunity they gave me to develop as a player. The club has been a huge part of my life and I'm grateful for the way so many people supported me there."

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