Off the back of a special moment last weekend, Leeton junior Mark Nicholls will look to continue his strong season for the South Sydney Rabbitohs when they take on the Penrith Panthers in the first week of finals.
The commanding front-rower was given the chance to lead out the Rabbits when they defeated St George Illawarra last weekend, and it was quite the surprise for Nicholls especially considering there was talk he would be a part of the senior players who were rested last weekend.
"Come Monday morning, Wayne (Bennett, Souths coach) announced the team to play and not only was I playing, but he also said I was captain," he said.
"It was very unexpected, but it was a great honour, and it was even better to get the win. It is something I will look back on fondly when I get older."
Having been able to cement his position in the front row halfway through the season, Nicholls is happy with how his season has progressed.
"Up until this season, I hadn't really started at all. I had mostly played off the bench," he said.
"The opportunity came mid-year to start and to prove myself, and I'm pretty happy with my form, and I have been able to retain that position. The next few weeks are where you really get to test yourself against the better teams."
The prop feels that starting the game on the field is actually easier compared to waiting to make an impact off the bench.
"When you are on the bench, you don't know when you are going on, and sometimes you have to sit there and watch the game, and you can have nervous energy," he said.
"You are just waiting to get out there, so it has probably been a bit easier starting getting out there and getting straight into it."
Heading into this weekend's clash with the Panthers, Nicholls is looking forward to testing himself against some of the best in the NRL.
"They did a job on us early in the year, and we versed them about three weeks ago, and for the first 30 minutes, we sort of dominated them, but then we let them back into the game," he said.
"We can take confidence from the first 30 minutes, but hopefully, we have learnt from the last 50, and we get an opportunity to test ourselves against one of the best teams."
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