Warriors stay silent on Nikorima switch
The Warriors on Monday declined the chance to terminate speculation that they will seek to sign Kodi Nikorima before the NRL's June 30 deadline.
Warriors chief executive Cameron George did not respond to a request for comment from The Courier-Mail and the club made no media statement, encouraging "where there's smoke there's fire'' scrutiny.
The Broncos, likewise, would not comment, but that is not as significant because any first move would have to be made by Nikorima if he was certain the Warriors wanted him as their halfback.
Nikorima, who is reported to have an option with the Broncos for 2020 at his discretion, would have a motivation to increase his income with a longer deal with the Warriors extending to the end of 2022.
"I've heard it's a done deal, Nikorima to the Warriors,'' said an official from a third club.
The former Broncos junior would need to be convinced that he is not viewed as a long-term No.7 by Brisbane.
Brisbane's reasons to release Nikorima and even James Roberts to South Sydney before the June 30 deadline would be to free up more money in the 2020 salary cap to retain off-contract trio Tevita Pangai Jr, Corey Oates and Joe Ofahengaue.
But Nikorima, despite claims on Sunday that he had already played for the Broncos for the last time, and Roberts are expected to be selected for Thursday's clash with the Rabbitohs.
While Pangai's future is less clear, Oates and Ofahengaue has made it plain this year they would prefer to remain in Brisbane if an offer proves acceptable.
Former Brisbane premiership captain Kevin Walters said Nikorima was better placed than their alternative halfbacks, Tom Dearden and Sean O'Sullivan to pilot the first grade team this year.
"I'd be disappointed if the Broncos let Kodi Nikorima go,'' Queensland Origin coach Walters told Sky Sports' Big Sports Breakfast.
''They've got some young halfbacks in the waiting, but none of them are Kodi Nikorimas. I think deep down he would dearly love to stay at the Broncos but whether he does or not, that's another issue.''
Souths insiders said on Monday the Rabbitohs have been no approach to Roberts and there are no intentions to pursue him. Souths are awaiting an answer on the NRL's valuation of the retired Greg Inglis's income towards their 2019 salary cap.
Former Broncos playmaker Ben Ikin said the Broncos would not "go backwards'' if Roberts left and Kotoni Staggs continued to improve as a centre.
"It's complex. It's about how highly the Broncos rate Kotoni Staggs,'' Ikin told The Courier-Mail. "It's about the relationship between player and coach. I've heard rumblings that they (Roberts and Seibold) are maybe not as close as Roberts and Wayne (Bennett) were.
"If they can get Staggs to stay long term and release Roberts they get to clear a fair bit of money off their salary cap. Then, of course, there is a healthy salary waiting Roberts if he chooses to go to the Rabbitohs and it becomes (a question of) does Roberts want out to go back to Sydney?
"As good as Roberts is, Staggs is not far off being a first rate centre in my view. I wouldn't think the Broncos would go backwards, letting Roberts go.''
The management ties between central figures in the Broncos and Warriors make Nikorima's future even more intriguing.
The same agent manages Nikorima, coaches Seibold and Steve Kearney, and also Sean O'Sullivan. O'Sullivan is the son of Warriors recruitment chief Peter O'Sullivan.