Nikora was not someone I thought I’d be taking a look at this pre-season but his recent impressive performance in the NRL All Stars game intrigued me to take a look. Nikora put up an impressive 62 points in 69 minutes featuring 5 tackle breaks and 3 offloads, however it does need to be taken with a pinch of salt given that it is an exhibition game after all. I think Fitzgibbon has tipped his hand at who he considers to be his preferred round 1 starting 13 from the team named in the Sharks first trial match with all backups named so I think it’s safe to say he’ll be on the right edge outside Nicho Hynes in March. Let’s take a closer look at Nikora’s 2022 prospects.
Everyone’s second favourite dual position centre of 2019, Nikora comes into this season priced at 44 after an injury effected 20min appearance as well as 2 games off the bench in 2021. However, in his 60+ minute back row starts last year, Nikora posted a very solid average of 49pts (adjusted for new scoring). This was an increase of 2pts (minus turnover tackles) from his 2020 average despite posting his lowest try scoring numbers in a season thus far. The extra 2 points came in the form of an extra tackle and an extra 10 run metres, pretty sustainable stuff. So if we were to mark for no improvement there’s probably a base line of about 4 to 5 points of value here, which is good but not enough to consider Nikora a buy in round 1.
On the other hand, if you were to project Nikora for a try scoring rate some where between his 2019 and 2020 rate as well as another potential half offload based on his intent in the all stars game, you’re looking at a 3 point in improvement and an edge player averaging in the low 50s or as I like to call it the “Luciano Leilua zone”. Again you have to take the All Stars game with a grain of salt but I don’t think it’s a particularly high bar to attain, especially when there’s a strong possibility Hynes is seeing a Cleary-like number of touches in this Sharks offence.
By no means am I ready to declare Nikora a buy, but I will say I think he’s going in the black book and worth keeping an eye on in the Sharks second trial, assuming they run a full strength side in that one. If the Sharks are heavily favouring that right side in attack or Nikora continues to show intent to offload more then he might be a potential round 1 POD option. Even if there doesn’t end up being enough value for Classic, I believe at worst he’s a very handy pick up in Draft formats (currently ranked 15th in edge our rankings) and likely one you can get in later rounds being under drafted.