The global pandemic has taken many people’s lives in different directions to ones they expected, and that is certainly the case for Tyme Dow-Nikau.
The York City Knights utility back arrived in this country little over a week before the country’s first Covid-19 lockdown last year, having signed for North Wales Crusaders.
On arrival he initially stayed with family friends in York that were a legacy of his father Tawera Nikau’s time in this country 30 years earlier.
When it became clear that League 1 wouldn’t be restarting, it was Crusaders chief executive Andy Moulsdale who suggested that Dow-Nikau should speak to the Knights about linking up with them instead.
And although he didn’t get on the field in 2020, he played for his dad’s former club against Wigan in the Challenge Cup on Friday night and made an encouraging start to life at York.
“I was signed to North Wales Crusaders, and my wife and I arrived here on March 9, so we walked pretty much straight into the lockdown,” Dow-Nikau, 28, explained.
“We just happened to be staying with some friends in York to make the transition a bit easier, and got stuck here for a bit.
“Crusaders came up with the idea and said that if they didn’t get back underway, they could have a word with Fordy (coach James Ford) and the York club and see if I could at least train with them.
“It progressed from there and we came up with an opportunity for this season.
“I’m really grateful for what Andy and the club over there have done. Nobody wants to be losing players and I can’t thank them enough for what they did.
“It was always in the back of my mind to come to England and have a bit of a crack.
“Being in Australia and New Zealand, the UK is the only other really viable option at the moment.
“I hadn’t been too serious about it until last year, when I thought I should see if there were any options.
“I put some feelers out and made it happen.
“I got a bit stagnate where I was and want to keep pushing myself and keep learning, so this was a really good move for me career-wise.
“I was living in Newcastle in Australia and played a few seasons in the Knights’ system in the reserve grade in the New South Wales Cup.
“I was coming off a couple of injuries and trying to find my way back, but I fell out of love with it and the UK could be a great opportunity to refresh and get a new love for the game.
“York is in a really good spot with a new stadium and our results.
“There’s a really good team and I’d heard a lot of good raps about Fordy and how good a coach he is. Now being in the system I can understand where that comes from.”
Dow-Nikau’s father didn’t play any role in the decision to follow in his footsteps to the Minster City, but he certainly endorsed the move, after having played 25 popular games for Ryedale York during the 1990-91 season.
“I kept him in the loop with me coming over but I didn’t pick his brains too much on coming to York,” Tyme said.
“He had big raps on the place though, the town, the people and the environment – he couldn’t speak more highly of the place.
“He said it was a good opportunity. And why not?”
The pair may yet team up again in England this year.
Nikau, now 54, lost a leg in a motorcycle accident in 2003, and has targeted a place in New Zealand’s Physical Disability World Cup squad.
Dow-Nikau added: “He said that he’s been training with them, and hopefully if it all goes ahead he’ll play in that.
“I’ve already asked him if there’s a waterboy job going again.”
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