IT is quickly becoming evident that Nikau Williams will not just be a half-back for York Knights.

The Kiwi playmaker made the move to North Yorkshire from troubled Newcastle Thunder during the off-season, but finds himself with competition in the form of Liam Harris, Richie Myler and Ata Hingano.

That is without taking into consideration Josh Daley and Taylor Pemberton, who both filled in at half-back for York last season, or young prospect Jack Potter, following his move to the club from Hull KR in November.

Having started both the Knights AB Sundecks 1895 Cup group stage matches and their Betfred Challenge Cup third round triumph at Dewsbury Rams, Williams has since dropped to the interchanges, with Andrew Henderson favouring Myler alongside Harris at half-back following his return from injury.

However, that has allowed the head coach to test the 24-year-old’s versatility - he was given a run-out at hooker against Sheffield Eagles last month, and spent a spell at loose forward in Sunday’s victory over Oldham.


Brenden Santi and Ronan Michael’s absences left the Knights a little light in the forwards, with Jordan Thompson again stepping in at prop, but Henderson was left delighted by how Williams stood up to the task during a match in which his middles took the plaudits.

“We were a little bit light in the middle,” he admitted. “As you can see we only had a recognised front row forward, one on the bench.

“So we used Nikau Williams, who’s becoming a bit of a ‘Mr Fix It’ guy for us at the moment with that utility value. You know I like those sorts of players.

“He came on and played a job at 13 for us for a spell and obviously had to go into the halves in the second half when Liam Harris took a little bit of a knock - hopefully there’s nothing too major there, but we just thought to look after him with that one. 

“But that’s the luxury of having a player of Nikau’s ability and talent as he can fill a number of roles for you.

“I thought that he did a great job in the middles and then even Will Jubb did a stint at the back end for us in the middle as well.

“But that’s what happens, sometimes you have to adapt and thankfully we’ve got the players that know the system, listen, and perform well.”

York Press: Williams has two tries to his name already for the Knights, half of his total for the Thunder in 2023.Williams has two tries to his name already for the Knights, half of his total for the Thunder in 2023. (Image: Craig Hawkhead)

Henderson has not been shy in testing new combinations throughout the 1895 Cup and Challenge Cup campaigns, having chosen contested training sessions with Castleford Tigers and Hunslet over traditional pre-season friendlies during the off-season.

Oldham could not live with the Knights when Williams took up the role as a ball-playing pivot, something the head coach hinted that fans can expect more of throughout the Betfred Championship season.

“It’s something I’ve focused on this pre-season, looking at maybe having that middle unit player being that pivotal ball player,” he explained.

“I’ve had a look at Hingano and putting him up in Newcastle in that role, I’ve had a look at Nikau in that role. It just gives you a slightly different dynamic to your attacking game.

“Obviously, it’s something that we couldn’t really have in place last year, but it’s something that I’ve experimented a bit with in pre-season and like the look of.

“It just gives you a different sort of dynamic.”