?I haven?t played a full match for about two months now so I?m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things and doing my best for the Sharks.?
Playing a couple of seasons, albeit with very short breaks during the previous NSW State League campaigns, has surely seen a number of changes both for and in the lad and he readily admits this is the case: ?The pace of the game is faster in the A-League and physically and mentally tougher so I have been hardened to a higher standard for want of a better term but being back at Sutherland is like coming home really as most of the players are still here and I just want to do my best for the team and let the A-League side of things sort themselves out so I can concentrate on my football.
?I hope I can impose the experience in games I?ve learnt and adopt the same attitude to matches I?ve always had hopefully carry on in the right manner.?
The differences are plain to see going from part-time football to full-time training although missing the better part of the 1st half of the A-League season has inured a discipline that has seen him put on a little more muscle and in pre-season games shown a quicker reaction time, better reading of the game and not a little extra pace: ?Yeah, full-time training certainly quickens you up and physically and mentally makes you sharper so hopefully I can put that to good use.?
Sutherland Sharks took on another powerhouse NSW Premier League side and reigning Champions in Blacktown City for the season opener at Seymour Shaw Park and he wasn?t about to underestimate them: ?They are always a hard team to play and have lost a couple of players and with a new coach they are unlikely to be any easier to beat this season than any other and we are usually quite slow starters but we?ll look for the three points and if we do the right things we can certainly get them but I am expecting a tough first game back.?
The match however went the home side?s way with Nikas playing an influential role alongside the likes of Nick Stavroulakis, Jim Bakis, Matt Bailey and Sam Awad with a 2-1 victory at the Sharks palace.
Nikas, for all the ups and downs of A-League experiences during the last two summers, has returned the same level headed and delightful young man he has always been and that surely goes down to his parents who are equally endearing and no doubt wishing Panni all the best for the campaign, as all fans will be.
The NSW Premier League is all the better for the likes of Nikas playing in it and moving on to higher grades which is why, in many cases, it can rival bigger competitions as everyone who plays in it wants to achieve so much more.
-By Micky Brock