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Kiwi Raiders star reflects on time at Storm ahead of semi-final clash with former club

The last time Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad featured in a Suncorp Stadium match involving the Melbourne Storm he scored five tries.

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad of the Raiders scores a try during the round three NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the Canberra Raiders at AAMI Park Source: Getty

It was 2015 and the now Canberra fullback was the success story of Victoria's junior system.

Kiwi-born, Nicoll-Klokstad moved to Victoria with his dad and siblings at age 15 in 2010 after his mum had been sent to jail for her involvement in a drug ring.

He quickly emerged as one of the state's best young players and became a leading local talent in the state's under-18s team and Melbourne's under-20s side.

"I went there as a boy and left as a man," Nicoll-Klockstad told AAP this week.

In a different world, he could easily be running out for the Storm against Canberra in Friday's preliminary final.

A late bloomer in his final year of under-20s, Nicoll-Klockstad played alongside the likes of Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Cameron Munster, Christian Welch and Suliasia Vunivalu.

Melbourne knew they had a talent on their hands but with Billy Slater on their books and Munster coming through, experimented with him at centre and five- eighth.

Nicoll-Klokstad meanwhile wanted to go back to New Zealand to be with his family who had largely reunited over the Tasman 18 months earlier.

By the time he claimed a five-try haul playing five-eighth against Brisbane in the final round of the season, his mind had been made up.

"My dad and brothers and that had gone home," Nicoll-Klokstad said.

"My old lady got out of prison in my last year of school.

"I wanted to be able to be close around my family again and my parents.

"She was able to fly to Australia but it was a little bit easier for me to fly back home. I wouldn't change anything from that decision."
The five tries were, however, crucial.

Melbourne threw an even bigger deal at him but realistically he knew his heart was set on moving home.

The Warriors signed him a month later.

Ultimately he'd play just seven NRL games for the New Zealand-based club before being let go early last year and becoming a star at fullback for the Raiders.

"I spent three years there and started my own family, so there was a bit of a mental shift by the time I came back to Canberra," he said.

Watching the likes of Slater, he considers his time at the Storm crucial.

"He was a great role model and he knew the game inside out," Nicoll-Klockstad said.

"Everything he did was to make sure he was the best at his position and the best player he could be on game day.

"There is a lot to take out of Billy Slater and his work ethic."