Nikorima’s exit all but complete
BRONCOS coach Anthony Seibold admits he cannot guarantee the long-term future of Kodi Nikorima at Brisbane ahead of Thursday night's grudge match against Wayne Bennett's Rabbitohs.
And Seibold also issued a hands-off edict to rival NRL clubs amid growing speculation Broncos centre James Roberts is unhappy at Red Hill and could quit the club within weeks to reunite with Bennett at Redfern.
Nikorima will not play against the Rabbitohs as he prepares to ink a four-year, $1 million deal with the Warriors - clearing the path for 18-year-old halfback sensation Tom Dearden to make one of the most daunting debuts in NRL history.
Nikorima personally addressed the Broncos squad to say farewell. Seibold says he doesn't want the New Zealand Test halfback to leave the club but revealed he could not guarantee Nikorima would be Brisbane's No.7 for the long haul.
"Kodi has taken a couple of days to consider his options," he said.
"The Warriors have offered him a substantial financial deal for four years. He has a young family to consider and he has taken a couple of days off to consider that and go through that process.
"We will revisit it after tomorrow night's game.
"We don't want Kodi to go, we think he has a future here, but when he has a young family to consider, the financial terms of the contract are what they are. It's a tough decision for him to knock back. That will all be sorted over the next 24 to 48 hours I'd imagine either way."
Asked if he told Nikorima he would not be Brisbane's long-term halfback, Seibold said: "That's a private conversation between coach and player.
"Being transparent with players is really important for me. We haven't been able to guarantee Kodi anything beyond 2020 which is the club's prerogative.
"Kodi had a conversation with me last week. Everyone knows the Warriors have been sniffing around for ages, you guys have reported it.
"He wanted to see what else was out there and as a club we could only guarantee 2020, we wanted to have a look at our options going forward as every club does.
"It's a five-day turnaround for this game and it's a welfare thing for Kodi (not to play).
"Kodi thought it was the best thing for him not to play and I've fully supported that. There's no ducks and drakes. Everyone in the organisation respects Kodi immensely and he's an impressive young man."
Seibold also addressed persistent rumours Roberts is on the verge of quitting the Broncos.
"That's an interesting one," he said.
"I've been told before there is something in the media about Jimmy. He has not seen me (about a release).
"He is under contract for next year, it's not like Kodi's situation where there is an option in his favour.
"Clubs shouldn't be talking to Jimmy if they are. I imagine it is media talk in Sydney but Jimmy started last week and he will start in the centres tomorrow night so he is under contract for the next year and a bit.
"Until someone tells me otherwise, I expect him to see out his deal."
Seibold said he had no hard feelings towards Bennett as the pair prepare to square off for the first time since last year's explosive coaching swap which was headlined by the super coach's sacking at Red Hill.
"I don't really know Wayne. I wish him all the best," he said.
"There is no negativity in my mind in and around Wayne.
"What he did for this club is second to none. He has left a legacy wherever he has been. His longevity is second to none. We won't ever see a career like his again so I only have positive things to say. I can't compare myself to what he has done and I never would. There is no comparison there."
Asked if Bennett undermined him in his final weeks at Souths, Seibold said: "I don't really need to comment on that. It was a strange old time that period. One thing I have learned about rugby league is that there are a lot of games that are played behind the scenes and you don't appreciate that when you are an assistant coach or a player.
"I don't have any negative feelings towards Wayne. We have all moved on and I'm trying to improve the group that we've got here, that's my main focus. We're trying to make some small gains and we're trying to do that against a team at the top of the table.
"It's a fantastic week. Rather than dwell on any negatives or anything that's happened in the past, I'm imagine there is great hype about the game. The start South Sydney have had, they have won six from seven, they are playing really good football.
"We go down there off the back of a better performance against the Sharks. It's great for rugby league. I'm excited. I can't wait."