Sydney Roosters rookie playmaker Jayden Nikorima has a point to prove over the next fortnight with Mitchell Pearce closing in on a return.
Nikorima’s place in Trent Robinson’s 17 beyond the next two rounds is up in the air with Pearce set to make his long-awaited comeback from a club suspension in round nine against Newcastle.
The 19-year-old former Brisbane Bronco began the year starting in the halves alongside fellow youngster Jackson Hastings but was put back to the bench a fortnight ago.
He was relegated from the starting side in favour of Aidan Guerra, with Robinson opting for more experience after a winless start to the first month of the season.
Nikorima said he did not know if he would be dropped to NSW Cup upon Pearce’s return and admitted it was up to him to demand selection.
“I’m not too sure yet, that’s up to Robbo. If he decides to put me on the bench, then I’ll do that. If not, then I’ll do whatever’s best for the team,” Nikorima said.
“It’s a long season and there are injuries that are going to happen and positions that will need to be filled.
“So hopefully I can make a statement and put in a good performance before Junior gets back.”
While most players shirk at the thought of starting the match sitting down, Nikorima made the frank admission that he was feeling more comfortable not being in the 13.
He said he was still building up his confidence in first grade during his debut season and playing the bench utility role was the ideal way to dip his toes in the water.
“I feel more comfortable off the bench, I guess,” Nikorima said.
“Going up through the 20s system, I was off the bench as a utility and I enjoyed myself there. I’ll play wherever is best for the team.
“I do like to start, don’t get me wrong, just starting off my first grade career, I just feel more comfortable coming off the bench.”