Brisbane Broncos coach Anthony Seibold has taken a sly dig at halfback Kodi Nikorima, who is expected to depart the club and join the Warriors in the coming days.
Nikorima sat out Brisbane's 38-6 thrashing against South Sydney on Thursday to 'ponder his future' with the club, after being offered a reported three-and-a-half-year deal, where he would earn more than double his current salary with the Broncos.
Eighteen-year-old Tom Dearden started in his place and showed glimpses of ability, but his performance was overshadowed by a rampant Bunnies side that claimed their equal-biggest winning margin over the Broncos (44-12 in 2009) in their equal-best start since 1989.
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The Broncos, who are now 2-6 this season, have struggled under Seibold, with Nikorima and halves-mate Anthony Milford taking most of the criticism.
Afterwards their loss, Seibold claimed recent high-school graduate Dreardon was the "best halfback" at the club, even though Nikorima had played more than 80 NRL games and 13 tests for New Zealand.
"Tom was real solid on debut, he's the best half we've got at our club at the moment," said Seibold.
"We've got to back him and trust him. I wouldn't put him in, if I didn't think he could do the job."
Seibold's comments could also mean Nikorima has effectively left the club, en route to his next destination.
Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett, who handed Nikorima his 2015 NRL debut, praised the Kiwi playmaker for sitting out the game.
"I wasn't surprised, after what happened, and he was strong enough to stand up for himself," he said.
Nikorima was first linked to the Warriors during the offseason, after they released Shaun Johnson from the final year of his contract in November.
But after the Warriors lost their only experienced playmaker - Blake Green - to injury, they were forced to rely on rookie Chanel Harris-Tavita alongside makeshift halves partners Peta Hiku and Tohu Harris.
Nikorima is contracted to Brisbane until the end of 2020, but the club won't hold him back should he decide to leave.
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