Benji Marshall in training yesterday.
Benji Marshall in training yesterday. DAN PELED

Veteran Marshall backs Nikorima in at halfback

BRONCOS veteran Benji Marshall says Kodi Nikorima deserves to start at halfback against the Storm if skipper Darius Boyd is fit to play in Friday night's preliminary final in Melbourne.

Boyd missed yesterday's training session for personal reasons and missed last week's win over the Panthers with a hamstring problem but Marshall expected the fullback to return this week.

Brisbane great Darren Lockyer said Marshall, who won the premiership with the Wests Tigers in 2005, should be the one to lead the Broncos at halfback this week, but the 32-year-old said his younger teammate should get the gig.

"I didn't know he said that, it's a big rap from Locky," Marshall said.

"But in my opinion I think Kodi deserves the opportunity, that's from a team point of view.

"Obviously I would love to have that chance but I think I play a pretty good role off the bench."

Marshall has started at halfback the last two games with Nikorima in the No.1 jersey.

Kiwi international Marshall was erratic in attack at No.7 and believes Nikorima must partner Anthony Milford if Boyd does make it back.

"If Darius comes back hopefully I am on the bench, I think I have been a little inconsistent the last couple of weeks," Marshall said.

"If Darius is fit I think Kodi has deserved his opportunity at halfback.

"I have been playing my bench role for most of the season, that's how I see it."

Brisbane has concerns over winger Corey Oates and forwards Jai Arrow and Sam Thaiday after all three picked up head knocks in the victory over Penrith.

Oates appeared the biggest risk after being taken off by a medicab after colliding with teammate Milford.

Asked about Oates, Marshall said: "He is walking around in circles with head gear on, so it is probably not a good sign.

"But I think he is playing. The collision looked a lot worse judging by the way he is feeling at the moment.

"Hopefully he is on track to play because he is a big asset for us."

Brisbane has lost four of its 23 games against Melbourne since defeating the Storm in the 2006 NRL grand final - the Broncos' last premiership.

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