After being at the Warriors for a season and a half, the 21-year-old finally got to make his NRL debut in the 14-13 win over the Roosters at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday night.
It looked like he scored a second half try in the tight win, but it was ruled out because David Fusitu’a passed the ball while on the ground in the build up.
However, Nicoll-Klokstad, who has played two tests for the Cook Islands, certainly didn’t look out of place and Kearney was delighted with how he played.
“I thought he was wonderful,” the Warriors coach said.
“For a young man, he didn’t look out of place out there.
“The more the game got nail biting, the more he stepped himself into the game and that was a real positive sign for him.
“To be fair, I didn’t have the expectation of him performing that well. He’s played really well at ISP (reserve grade) level and trained well, but he exceeded what I thought he was capable of him and that’s a real credit to him.”
Nicoll-Klokstad came up through the Melbourne Storm system, before joining the Warriors at the beginning of the 2016 season.
He said it had been a whirlwind few days for him since Kearney told him he’d be playing on the wing against the Roosters.
“I found out on Thursday and that first night’s sleep wasn’t that great,” Nicoll-Klokstad said.
“I couldn’t get back to sleep. But I had a few days to digest it and getting told a few days earlier benefitted myself.”
Nicoll-Klokstad got his first grade opportunity because of the injury to centre Solomone Kata, which resulted in Blake Ayshford taking his spot and creating an opening for Nicoll-Klokstad.
He was the Warriors’ reserve grade player of the season last year, a prize no player really wants to win.
Now, with Kearney raving about him so much, it would be a surprise if he was dropped for the Warriors’ next game, against the Panthers in two weeks’ time.
But Manu Vatuvei after playing and scoring a try for the reserves on on Sunday, will be in contention and it could be that Ken Maumalo is squeezed out. When Kata is back it will further complicate the outside back selection decisions.
One thing that looks likely though is that Tuimoala Lolohea has played his last game for the Warriors, with the club agreeing to let him go elsewhere.
Whether that’s at the end of the season or during the current campaign is yet to be determined as there are a number of clubs keen to take him, including the Ivan Cleary-coached Wests Tigers.