The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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Nicholls made his debut in round 17 last season and went on to play in the Raiders remaining 12 matches of the year including the finals, picking up the clubs rookie of the year award at the clubs Meninga Medal presentation night at seasons end.
Nicholls said he’s very happy to sign the new deal with the Raiders and said the goal now is to continue to put his best foot forward to make the first grade team each week.
“I’m excited to be staying with the Raiders for another two years and it’s great to be able to settle in to the season now and try and make my way back into the first grade team,” he said. “The Raiders are a great club and put a lot of faith in their juniors and I’m really happy to have signed a new deal.”
After playing the first two matches of the season for the Raiders top grade side Nicholls has been playing for Mounties after the return of Brett White from injury. Nicholls said this hasn’t deterred his enthusiasm and said as a player relatively new to the prop position; he’s using the experience to continue his development.
“I’m still learning the position and I’ve only really been playing front row for about a year now after playing edge back row all through my junior years,” he said. “Having the new contract allows me to continue my development and I’m working really hard to push for a spot each week and get some more game time in first grade.”
With former NYC team mates Matt McIlwrick and Paul Vaughan signing new deals last week, Nicholls said it’s an exciting time for the club and wished Vaughan all the best this weekend in his debut against the Cowboys.
“It’s great to re-sign and also have a few of my junior team mates from the NYC re-sign as well and hopefully we can continue to develop together, play well for the Raiders and help make the club successful,” he said. “Seeing a guy like Paul Vaughan who I’ve played alongside in the NYC getting the chance to make his debut this weekend is great and hopefully we can play together at NRL level soon as well.”
Raiders CEO Don Furner said the re-signing of Nicholls was another step in the process of determining the clubs long term squad and showed once again the pathway given via the clubs junior development programs.
“Mark is another player we see as a regular NRL standard player and it’s great to have him recommit for another two years,” Furner said. “We pride ourselves on giving our juniors a chance to step up into the NRL spotlight and Mark has shown he is more than capable of playing at NRL level.”