“It would mean so much [to play in round one]. It has been hard, it was always a risk to move here. You’re moving away from family, I’ve had to do five weeks without seeing my family,” Nicoll-Klokstad said.
“You’re coming here not sure if you’re going to get the position, but that is what I liked and enjoyed about the situation I was in. You weren’t too sure how you were going to go, all you had to do was just do your best, and hope for the best.
“A lot of things have come into play for me to get here and it’s exciting. For starters it was a fresh start, a fresh change for myself. I loved everything at the Warriors, but I felt like for myself I needed a change.
“I was behind the likes of Roger [Tuivasa-Sheck], Ken [Maumolo] and ‘Fus’ [David Fusitu’a], and they’re going really well. There was a really good opportunity here.
“It was like Kevin Walters said at the season launch. A few of those players established themselves that year [in 1989] as well, and we’ve got the same opportunity. We’ll do everything we can to make sure we have a good year.
“It has been a long four weeks in a sense for myself, my family is back home in New Zealand, but the light is at the end of the tunnel.”
That light takes the form of Nicoll-Klokstad’s partner Sarah and sons Rio and Kyrie – the latter of whom the Raiders recruit assumed was named after NBA superstar Kyrie Irving, but Sarah is adamant she found the name elsewhere.
The family will be together again in a matter of days as they brace for the prospect of seeing Nicoll-Klokstad make a claim for a regular NRL spot, having been limited to just seven games in Auckland.
The drive Nicoll-Klokstad has shown during his short stint in Canberra has raised a few eyebrows at Raiders headquarters, so impressed have they been with his impact during pre-season.
“Charnze has only been here for three or four weeks, and he has really stepped it up in that fullback position,” Croker said.
“He has come in and filled a massive hole we were a bit unsure of I guess, and the fact he is potentially kicking down the door to play is what we were after. Charnze has come in straight away and done that. He talks well, he is a professional, he has fit straight in with all the boys and it’s great to have him here.
“He’s a quiet type of bloke. He’s a great fella, got a young family. He’s an enjoyable bloke to have around. We’re all very close mates and Charnze has fit straight into that.”
NRL ROUND ONE
Sunday: Gold Coast Titans v Canberra Raiders at Gold Coast, 6.10pm. TV time: Live on Fox Sports.
Caden Helmers is a sports reporter for The Canberra Times