They say a change can be as good as a holiday and for Rockdale City Suns star signing Panny Nikas, it could be the perfect formula to catapult the mercurial midfielder back to form and potentially premiership success.
Nikas’ exit from Sydney United 58 to Join premiership rivals Rockdale City Suns was arguably the biggest transfer of the NPL NSW Men’s top tier off season.
If that wasn’t enough pressure for the 30-year-old, the former NPL NSW Men’s Player of the Year has the extra burden of fighting back from a serious knee injury which ended his time at Edensor Park prematurely.
But it’s all water off ducks back for the NPL NSW veteran who believes a new found balance between work, life and football could help him reach some of his best form this season.
“The decision to leave Sydney United didn’t come easy but life factors and the need for a change of scenery made it the logical move to join Rockdale,” Nikas said.
“I work at a School around the corner from Rockdale, live near Rockdale and run a football academy nearby so the challenge of doing all that and then having to drive to Edensor Park for football just became too much.
“Rockdale had called me every off-season since I was at the Sutherland Sharks and this time it just seemed right to make it happen.
“I loved my time at Sydney United and achieved some great things with that club but now I’m looking forward to this new project and doing everything I can to be successful.”
The addition of Nikas has given Suns coach Paul Reid enviable fire power to his attack and will once again make the Ilinden Sports Centre based outfit an early favourite.
While Nikas’ pedigree is undeniable, question remain whether he can bounce back from the knee injury which has sidelined him since August.
The attacking midfielder’s return to training in January was a positive sign he will be able to make a full recovery as he works towards being fit for round 1.
“I’m feeling pretty good and it’s been nice to be back on the park,” Nikas said.
“Slowly I’ve been getting my fitness back and hopefully it won’t be long until my knee is back to full strength.”
Nikas hasn’t been Rockdale’s only signing this off season with the club adding two-time premiership winning midfielder Sasa Macura and talented defender Leigh Egger.
However, it hasn’t all been incomings with goalkeeper Ante Covic, Blake Ricciuto and Harris Gaitatzis all departing the club.
Paul Reid will make the permanent move to the technical area in 2019 after being a player-coach for the past few seasons.
Nikas said he believed he could be the missing link to help Rockdale end their run of finals failures.
“I feel I am a player who in can make a difference in the big moments and I’ve proven that at every club I have played for,” he said.
“In the finals you need to be able to handle those situations and bring something special which I’m confident I can do.
“I’ve been fortunate enough that I have been very successful in this competition and I’m determined to help Rockdale to a premiership.”
Key player movements
Arrivals: Panny Nikas(Sydney United 58), David Bradasevic (Bonnyrigg), Leigh Egger (Manly United), Sasa Macura (Manly United)
Departures: Ante Covic, Harris Gaitatzis (Sydney Olympic), Blake Ricciuto (Brunei DPMM FC), Paul Reid (Coaching)
-By Nick Houghton