Mark Nicholls is from Leeton a small country town around 570km west of Sydney.
Born in 1990, Mark also known as ‘Nico’ & ‘the goat’ grew up playing sport idolising his dad & uncle who both played first grade for the local team the Leeton ‘Greenies’.
Nico loves his bush footy but a move by his family to the nations capital in Canberra helped kick start his rugby league career.
In the Canberra Raiders system Nico progressed from the NYC (National Youth Competition) in 2008 to an NRL debut for the Green Machine in 2012.
Nico described the day he finally made first grade as “a dream come true.”
This week Adam Reynolds is being rested for the finals so coach Wayne Bennett has handed the captaincy role to Nico as a reward for all his hard work.
That announcement as the team selections were read out was an extremely popular one among his teammates in a week when he was also voted players player for his career best game against the Roosters.
Grant Chappell my co-host on Rabbitohs Radio says –
“Mark was a journeymen until he arrived at Redfern in 2018 starting only 1 of his first 94 first grade games (round 1, 2018 against the Warriors in Perth).”
“The goat epitomises everything that is great about sport and he’s a player that has persevered and worked as hard as anyone not because of the fame or the money that comes with professional sports but because of his love for the game of rugby league.”
“At one stage of his career he was volunteering to work in the South Sydney football club offices for free with Rabbitoh’s C.F.O. Shannon Donato on his days off. He has now become an integral part of one of the greatest seasons in the South Sydney Rabbitohs long and storied history.”
“Mark Nicholls work rate is second to none, he does all the one percenter plays – kick pressure, line speed, quick play the ball, late foot work at the line and all the effort areas that coaches love.”
“You will not meet a nicer person in the game of rugby league than Mark Nicholls.”
We asked Rabbitohs blue shirt & Souths legend John Sutton about Nico & he said –
“Ever since Mark has come to the club he’s been a real hard worker.
“As a front rower he’s really smart, he knows where he has to be in defence. In attack he runs hard & as you’ve seen recently he’s knocked a few people doing that.”
“He has that presence to know where to be, what holes to hit & he can find the tryline. I’ve been impressed by the way he’s going & he seems like he’s just getting better.”
“He’s a great bloke to have around the locker room, he’s one of those guys you know you can rely on.”
“It’s awesome that he gets to lead out the boys this weekend & I’m sure he’s going to do a great job.”
In 2015 Nico was living with his musician mate Jack Biilmann & they made a bet.
If Nico ever scored 2 tries in an NRL game or Jack got one of his songs on the Triple J Hottest 100 then the other one must get a tattoo.
On Friday against the Roosters Nico crossed for a double so now Jack is getting a tattoo of a goat with player number #1140.
We spoke to Jack & he has allowed us to promote his music on our podcast, socials & Rabbitohs TV YouTube channel. We hope that the exposure we provide might just help one of Jacks songs get over the line on that 100 list.
In our interview with Nico he told us “I feel like I’ve found a bit of a home at South Sydney. I’ve got married (to Perrie) & had a kid (Darcie) & I feel like I’m playing the best footy of my career.
Yes you are playing sensational footy Nico & you’re also a legendary bloke that any young rugby league player can look up to as a role model.
Watching your career soar to the heights it’s at now has been fun to watch & we hope you stay at the club until the end of your career & beyond.
By Steve Mavin