Darren Nicholls became the oldest player to debut in the NRL era in 2018 and it was a special achievement for a player who was arguably one of the most successful in the Canterbury Cup NSW competition.
Nicholls captained the Penrith Panthers to the premiership in 2017 and won Man of the Match honours in the Grand Final before signing with the Dragons for the new campaign.
While he spent a majority of the season in the Canterbury Cup NSW in 2018, he was called upon by coach Paul McGregor for their Round 17 clash against the Storm – well and truly rewarding his perseverance with a first-grade start.
It was a coming of age moment for the 29-year-old who had plied his trade with countless clubs in previous years, including stints with the North Sydney Bears, Panthers, Dragons in the Canterbury Cup NSW and Redcliffe Dolphins, and Norths Devils in the Queensland Cup.
His two-year stint with the Dragons saw them finish in the top-four in both campaigns although they endured heart-breaking back-to-back Preliminary Final losses.
In his 31 appearances for the Red V, he recorded 18 try-assists, 15 line-break assists and 10 line-breaks – while his calming presence and superior game management stood tall and complemented five-eighth Jai Field perfectly.
The 2015 NSW Residents halfback signed with Souths Logan Magpies for the 2020 season, but managed just one game before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the competition to be cancelled.