Image: Twitter/Intrust Super Premiership

Dragons playmaker Darren Nicholls will become the oldest ever rookie to debut in the NRL this weekend at 29 years of age, having previously represented Penrith, Wests Tigers, South Sydney and Brisbane in their lower grades.

Nicholls headlines five inclusions for St George Illawarra when they take on the Storm this Thursday night at AAMI Park. And Dragons coach Paul McGregor has been plotting for Nicholls to fill Ben Hunt’s No. 7 jersey for the Origin series since the pre-season.

It comes after the Nicholls won the NSWRL Chairman’s Medal as player of the match in last year’s Intrust Super Premiership grand final, while leading the Panthers to victory in the State Championship final against PNG Hunters.

The NRL journeyman was stoked to finally get his opportunity to play in the top grade, recounting the long road he has taken to get there.

“It’s been a journey for me,” Nicholls told

“I played Under 20s at the Tigers and had one year of reserves at the Tigers, then spent two years over in France, playing there, and have been in the Broncos system, at the Panthers and also Souths, then here [Dragons].”

He will play halfback behind a pack of Intrust Super Premiership teammates including Blake Lawrie, Jacob Host and Luciano Leilua. And Nicholls is confident of where the entire club was it, with the ISP side sitting equal third on the ladder.

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“We are doing really well as a club,” he said.

“Coming first and third is a good position to be in. We started slowly in the ISP but we are going in the right direction.

“When you are winning, you have that confidence and you don’t want a losing culture so with us winning as well as first grade the club has been successful for most of the year.”



  1. Good for him. Humble kid who is a real No. 7 type player but not great speed, defence..hmmm not so sure. I suppose we will see tomorrow night. I hope he can do it under bright lights and TV cameras. All you need is a chance!

  2. Good luck Darren, with Ben Hunt playing injured and so out of form since Round 10, you’re probably unlucky not to have go a first grade start already in 2018.
    It is the decimation of the Dragon’s forward pack that will make it extremely hard to be competitive against the 3rd placed Storm.

  3. I agree Blood..Storm have 9 top liners out (if you count Bromwich, Kas and Finucane) and they have 1st grade experienced replacements who can do almost as good a job as the ones out. That Justin Olam carved Dragons up a bit last time playing centre in a losing side. Dragons dont have that depth especially front row and it will probably show tomorrow the forwards as that has been their strength all year. McInnes has to step up again and play like he did early in the season.

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