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BIGGEST STORIES | #6 - Nicholls Makes NRL Debut

Looking back on the remarkable year that was, NSWRL.com.au counts down the 10 biggest stories from the 2018 Intrust Super Premiership NSW season. At No.6, we look at an NRL debut 29 years in the making. 

It was Rugby League’s most deserving debut.   

Since captaining the Wests Tigers in the 2008 Toyota Cup season, Darren Nicholls has spent 10 years playing Rugby League overseas and travelling in between states.

As Balmain junior playing for the Tigers, it would then be a monumental step for Nicholls to pack his bags and fly to France to continue his Rugby League journey. Since returning home, he’s barley stayed under the same roof for over a year. 

His first club after France was the Wyong Roos before signing for the South Sydney Rabbitohs in 2013. He joined Anthony Griffin at the Brisbane Broncos a year later, before returning to Redfern the following season. 

He then moved back to the Broncos in 2016 and then moved to the Penrith Panthers last year where he led the side to an Intrust Super Premiership NSW Grand Final victory. 

When Nicholls signed for the St George Illawarra Dragons in 2018, it would be the first time he’d stayed in the same state for consecutive years since 2015. All of this for a shot in the NRL. 

In Round 17, 2018, he finally made his debut. 

Don’t worry about the 10 years since leaving the Wests Tigers; Darren Nicholls had been gunning for this debut for most of his 29 years.

Playing Melbourne away is one of Rugby League’s toughest assignments, and Nicholls was tasked with not only playing his first game there, but in the halves.

It turned out to be one of the games of the season, with the Storm running away with it in the end to win 52-30.

The result will never overshadow the story; a man who never gave up on his NRL dream despite going so close for the better part of a decade.