South Sydney front-rower Mark Nicholls has agreed to extend his stay at Redfern for another pair of seasons.
The 31-year-old has gone from strength-to-strength across his four-season stint with Souths after previously spending time with Canberra (2012-15) and Melbourne (2016-17).
Having been born in New South Wales' Riverina region, Nicholls has brought a stereotypical no-nonsense approach to the Rabbitohs pack across his 82 games in cardinal and myrtle and saw him run for more than 100 metres on 17 occasions.
While a premiership ring finished outside of his grasp earlier this month, the bearded prop was the only name to line-up in each of the club's 27 games in 2021.
This season also proved a special one for the man affectionately known as 'The GOAT' as he was granted the honour of skippering the side in Round 25 and earned the Bob McCarthy Award as South's Clubman of the Year.
While not known for his propensity for crossing the chalk, Nicholls also proved how white hot his form was when he dotted down for a double in the Bunnies' rout of the Chooks in Round 24.
Mark Nicholls gets his FIRST-EVER career double 🤯 👏#NRLRoostersSouths
📝 BLOG https://t.co/qJwk0AaT9D
📲 MATCH CENTRE https://t.co/RMkkDAbYcc
📺 WATCH via @kayosports https://t.co/ixM4yjsFe8 pic.twitter.com/bJYcBxATq1
— Fox League (@FOXNRL) August 27, 2021
Speaking in an official statement released on Monday afternoon, South Sydney's Head of Football, Mark Ellison could not disguise his glee after obtaining the quiet achiever's signature.
“We’re really excited to have Mark staying with the Club for at least two more seasons,” Ellison said.
“He embodies everything we are looking for in our front row mix. He’s a very hard worker, has a low error rate, makes good metres and makes his tackles. He is one of the most reliable front rowers in the game."
Ellison also expressed that Nicholls' stock made him an important retention for the 2021 runners-up.
“He’s been great for our Club over the past four seasons, he comes from a lovely family and is building a little family of his own now, and he is looking after himself in terms of his career after football as well which is very important here at South Sydney," he continued.
“He’s a senior player with leadership skills amongst our group and is a fantastic example of perseverance and determination to succeed.
“We couldn’t be happier to have Mark staying with our Club and we see his best football still being in front of him.”
Despite normally being one to let his actions do the talking, the man of the moment paid respects to his family, the club and their fans before laying down a marker for 2022.
“The last few years have been amazing for me and my family, both in terms of my footy and away from the field,” Nicholls said.
“I’ve been married to my beautiful wife Perrie, we had our gorgeous daughter Darcie and it’s no coincidence that I feel that I’ve played my best footy too.
“I love this Club and everything it does for me and my family. It’s an honour to wear the red and green.
“I love the group of players and coaches we have, the Members are second-to-none, and hopefully I can repay them all by helping us go one step further than we did this year by winning the premiership.”
Nicholls will be 33-years of age by the time this latest contract is completed, and given the attrition worn by rugby league front-rowers, one could expect that this may be the last deal of his professional career.
Still, with his ability to dig in on every set evident, the Wagga Wagga-born workhorse is unlikely die wondering in his pursuit of the game's ultimate prize.