Where are they now – Tawera Nikau
Tawera Nikau was our Club’s original enforcer.
When his name gets mentioned Storm fans instantly get flashbacks of the man who was simply unstoppable in the 1999 NRL Grand Final.
They just didn’t make them any tougher than Nikau and his opponents knew it.
Prior to joining Melbourne, the Kiwi prop had already enjoyed a distinguished career with Castleford in the English Super League where he played 165 games. He also made 53 appearances for the Sharks before taking the leap of faith to sign with Storm in 1998.
Over the course of 53 games and two seasons he endeared himself to the purple faithful, not only by helping to steer the Club to its maiden premiership but also the relentless way in which he approached the game every time he put on the purple jersey.
Eighteen years after he last played for Melbourne, Nikau now wears multiple hats in retirement.
He sits on the Waikato Tainui tribal parliament, runs a corporate training company and is also a Director on the board of New Zealand Rugby League.
It is a busy life he now leads but is really enjoying it.
“After being a professional sportsman for such a long time it takes a bit of time to work out what you want to do,” Nikau said.
“I am pretty happy in this space now because I live on a farm and look after it all here. The business stuff now is really good, it is something that I have evolved into but it is pretty exciting.
“I always had an interest in business. When I was playing football I was always doing some building, developing, had restaurants, doing a whole lot of different stuff.”
He has spent time coaching Waikato Bay in New Zealand’s regional competition but his involvement in the game these days is largely restricted to the back room.
The 50-year-old works closely as a selector with Kiwi coach David Kidwell, a role that now takes on greater responsibility with a World Cup campaign fast approaching at the end of the year.
“I still enjoy the involvement at the national and international level which is really good,” Nikau said.
“One of the key roles that I do have as a director is to look at the game and what it means right across New Zealand.”
Nikau was intimidating when he played but even he admits to sitting back in awe at what these modern day players are capable of.
“The game is so much faster, so much quicker,” Nikau said.
“Watching the NRL and the State of Origin, the game has evolved immensely. The speed of the game and the ability of the players now is just unbelievable.
“It is a fantastic product at the moment and we are very lucky to be watching some high quality rugby league.”
Despite living in New Zealand, Nikau still claims Storm as his “number one team”.
He still speaks about the culture and legacy that Storm has – two things that he himself played a vital part in, that helped build the foundations of our great Club.