Loyal On and Off the Field
Posted on 27/07/2016 by Kylie Truman
Don't ask Tamatea halfback Wayne Nikora to describe his team's loss to MAC at the weekend ... he can't.
"We played out of our skins. It's our State of Origin, a game every player associated with both teams wants to win and it's always a good game," Nikora said as he reflected on Tamatea's 28-26 loss.
Tamatea led 20-7 at halftime and were in front for the entire second half of the Bill Mathewson Park encounter until MAC scored the winning try in the final minute. Although Nikora was on the losing side coaches and managers from both camps were adamant he was the player-of-the-match.
"Definitely Wayne. He spoilt a lot of our ball and was inspirational in most of Tamatea's attacks," MAC manager Narley Tuliau said.
Nikora, 33, who is in his 14th season of premier rugby became the 15th weekly winner in the battle for the McDonald's-Hawke's Bay Today Club Rugby Player of the Year award.
While Tamatea are sitting on 59 consecutive losses, Nikora believed if they could repeat Saturday's display during their next three games they will produce a win.
"We've got Havelock North, Central and Hastings. Central will be the team we'll be hunting for."
Most of his family are MAC players or supporters. He marked his cousin Colin Hokianga for the first time at the weekend.
"I'm the black sheep of the family. I've been with the club since I was five and Nui is the main reason, I enjoyed playing with him and I learnt a lot when he was coaching," Nikora said referring to former Tamatea coach and player and fellow Hastings Boys' High School product Nui Bartlett.
Nikora was a first five-eighth during his secondary school days and had two years of 1st XV play. It wasn't until he played at premier level that he switched to halfback.
"I remember having two years in the seventh form because I enjoyed rugby and touch so much," he recalled.
The father of six, five girls and a new-born son, reckoned there were at least a couple more seasons of premier play left in him.
"I'm sure I can push myself for a couple more. There's no way I'll match JR who is on 20 seasons of premier play and has also got one more child than me," he quipped referring to teammate Jason Robinson.
A former Hawke's Bay Development and under-23 rep at union, Nikora, is also a former Hawke's Bay Unicorns rugby league representative. He has played league for Tamatea during the past eight years.
"Basically my life is family, work and rugby these days. Things got pretty busy on the family front when one of our girls required a liver transplant when she was two ... she is now 10," Nikora recalled.
His loyalty to Tamatea is matched by his loyalty to his job as a timber grader at Tumu Timbers where Nikora has been for the past 12 years.
"There's plenty of Hastings Rugby and Sports players there including Magpies lock [Sanaila] Junior Waqa. There's always plenty of banter and bets going down during the rugby season."
It shouldn't be too long before Nikora will be able to put money on smaller margins where Tamatea is concerned.