Tyme Dow-Nikau will play his first Newcastle Rugby League match in front of Kiwi international father Tawera Nikau on Saturday when Kurri Kurri tackle Western Suburbs at Harker Oval.
It will be one of two catch-up games played across the competition this weekend and the Bulldogs centre will have the 1999 Melbourne Storm premiership winner on the sidelines in support.
Nikau senior, based in Huntly near Auckland on the north island of New Zealand, will stay on for the fixture after being guest speaker at a sportsman’s dinner in Kurri on Friday night.
It’s the fourth season Nikau junior has played in Newcastle, the first two with Maitland and the most recent couple with Kurri, and outside a NSW Cup encounter for the Knights away against the Warriors last year family visits are understandably few and far between.
“He [Nikau senior] doesn’t get much of a chance to come here so it’s good to have him here for a few days,” Wallsend-based Nikau, 25, said.
“He watches the games on BarTV, but this will be his first live Newcastle game.
“We talk about footy as much as we can, but it’s different watching it online to being there because you get a bit more perspective.
“But there’s a lot of experience coming from him so I take in what I can.”
The Bulldogs will be without star playmaker Terence Seu Seu, who copped a one-match suspension this week after taking an early guilty plea on a grade-one reckless high-tackle charge.
Jarom Haines replaces Seu Seu at halfback and Kade Hardy shifts to fullback.
Wests are missing Uti Baker (hamstring) and Rosellas coach Matt Lantry has taken the chance to “tinker” with his squad.
Warren Schillings moves to prop, Peter Mannion goes to lock and James Elias will line up in the second row.
In the remaining encounter South Newcastle and Macquarie meet for a second straight weekend but this grand final replay will take place at Townson Oval on Sunday.
Central Newcastle, Lakes, Cessnock and Maitland have the weekend off.