Bay of Plenty product Briton Nikora began 2019 as a relative unknown. He finished the season entrenched in Cronulla’s back-row with four New Zealand Test caps under his belt.
Nikora moved to the Gold Coast with his family in 2007 and honed his rugby league skills at famed breeding ground Keebra Park State High School. He caught the Sharks’ eye and scored 16 tries in 25 under-20s games for the club in 2016-17, earning a place in the NYC Team of the Year and representing the Junior Kiwis in the latter season.
After spending 2018 with feeder club Newtown Jets, Nikora was a second-row starter for the Sharks in Round 1 of the 2019 NRL season. He immediately impressed with his ability to hit a hole – making seven line-breaks his first five games – and formed a lethal combination with playmaker Shaun Johnson on the right edge.
The pair reprised their partnership on the international stage in June, when Nikora received a Kiwis call-up for the Mt Smart showdown with Tonga after just 12 NRL appearances. The 21-year-old wore the No.12 jumper, running for over 100 metres and racking up 25 tackles in a strong debut as the Kiwis prevailed 34-14.
Nikora featured in all but one of Cronulla’s 25 games and finished a stellar rookie year with seven tries. The tyro then starred for New Zealand during the inaugural World Cup Nines and retained his second-row spot for all three of the Kiwis’ post-season internationals against Australia and Great Britain, enhancing his reputation as a hardworking defender as well as a dangerous ball-runner.