South Sydney set to reward underrated prop Mark Nicholls with a contract extension

South Sydney set to reward underrated prop Mark Nicholls with a contract extension

Underrated South Sydney prop Mark Nicholls is set to be rewarded with a contract extension following a standout season.

Nicholls, a 31-year-old who juggles NRL football with work as a business development manager, has been an unsung hero upfront for the Rabbitohs.

The Leeton-born forward has played 25 games this season, missing just one, while scoring three tries and running for 2896 metres.

Ahead of Friday’s preliminary final against Manly, Souths are in discussions to extend Nicholls’ contract for one to two seasons, which would be a fitting reward.

The former Canberra and Melbourne big man has excelled under Wayne Bennett’s coaching at the Rabbitohs.

Bennett has a history of extracting the best out of players and Nicholls is the perfect example, with his hardworking approach such an asset for Souths.

He is also hugely effective in defence, with an impressive tackle efficiency of 96.5 per cent.

Perhaps the most valuable part of Nicholls’ game has been his leadership – a quality Bennett recently lent on when he asked his prop to deliver a pre-game speech ahead of Souths’ qualifying final against Penrith.

The Rabbitohs headed into that clash as underdogs and without suspended star fullback Latrell Mitchell, so the super coach knew he needed some inspirational and calming words to inspire his younger charges.

Bennett turned to an unlikely source – the relaxed larrikin Nicholls – to take pressure off his rising stars with a speech full of banter.

The move proved a masterstroke, with the Rabbitohs defying the odds to record a 16-10 win over the Panthers.

According to Nicholls, the secret to Bennett’s success is simple.

“The best thing about Wayne is that the boys want to play for him,” Nicholls said.

“He has been around for a long time and been in plenty of finals series.

“We’ve got a lot of young guys in the team and a lot of guys that haven’t played (finals) and that is why Wayne is the master coach that is he is.

“He is the best in the business, Wayne.”

Souths veteran Benji Marshall is also playing for his future during the NRL finals.

Marshall has previously indicated he will decide on his next career move after the season.

It’s understood the Rabbitohs are open to extending his contract as well, given his valuable contribution off the bench in 2021.

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