Tom Dearden is set to line up at halfback for the Broncos. (AAP/Image Sarah Marshall)
Tom Dearden is set to line up at halfback for the Broncos. (AAP/Image Sarah Marshall)

Dearden to debut against Bunnies

SPECULATION that Kodi Nikorima has played his last match for the Broncos has been further fuelled by his non-selection for Thursday's showdown with South Sydney.

Broncos coach Anthony Seibold said in a statement that while Nikorima has struggled with a calf injury for the past two weeks the halfback also "has some decisions to ponder about his future'', while Broncos insiders said there was not much point putting Nikorima through the preparation for an important match with so much on his mind this week.

Nikorima has been offered much more money than he is on in his current Broncos deal to play for the Warriors on a contract extending to the end of 2022 provided he moves before the June 30 transfer deadline.

Seibold said 18-year-old halfback Tom Dearden would make his NRL debut for Brisbane against the Rabbitohs, a match which has been thrown into uncertainty for the Broncos by Nikorima's future.

"Kodi did a good job to prove himself fit for the match last weekend on a six-day turnaround and played well against the Sharks," Seibold said.

"He also has some decisions to ponder around his future, decisions that are not easy to sift through, and that may affect his family.

"So considering the tight turnaround between matches, we think it is best he does not play against the Rabbitohs on Thursday.''

Kodi Nikorima must weigh up his future after being dumped. Picture: Annette Dew
Kodi Nikorima must weigh up his future after being dumped. Picture: Annette Dew
It is now possible Nikorima's first game for the Warriors would be in Brisbane, when the Warriors take on St George Illawarra in the NRL's Magic Round at Suncorp Stadium on May 11.

It may be less than a month before Nikorima, 25, plays against his only NRL club. The Warriors meet the Broncos in Auckland on May 25.

The Broncos trained Tuesday morning, with the blond-head and energy of Dearden prominent.

"Tom has been working with this squad since January and played three first grade trials for the Broncos in the pre-season," Seibold said.

"It will be an exciting night for him, and we are certain he is ready to play a role for the club."

If Nikorima does not play for the Broncos again, it would end a difficult if dogged period in which Seibold, and last year Wayne Bennett, tried to make him a first grade halfback.

Nikorima's running game is an asset but he has not developed the game management skills to make him a consistent figure at halfback.