Although Darren Nicholls may have been called into the Souths Logan Magpies squad to share his knowledge with his younger team mates, he still has a lot to learn himself.
This is in no way a bad thing. Rather, a sign of his enthusiasm and drive to continue to improve.
“I have no problem with moving around if there is a good opportunity for me... so I just have to have an open mind and you have to be willing to learn,” Nicholls said.
“Everywhere you go, you have something else to learn and if I stop learning anything from footy, that’s when I should stop.
“Each coach and every system I have been in, every time I have been with different clubs, they have always wanted me to improve something different, so I try and just get better in certain areas, and I think I can pass on some of the traits of some of the different drills and experience that I have got.
“I am looking forward to really working with some of the younger lads and really (helping them) progress to go onto bigger and better things.
“My role here is that I am an experienced halfback. I am not going to be flashy or stuff like that, but I know how to get the team around the park and I think I will really thrive in that role here and I think there’s a lot of blokes that will benefit off me just being calm and knowing how to execute a game plan and really finish teams off.”
Nicholls is also learning on the job – literally – in his new role as a health and physical education teacher.
“Off the field, I started work at Marsden High School and they have a bit of a link in there (with the Magpies), which is good,” Nicholls said.
“They have a rugby league program and I am really looking forward to giving some of my knowledge to the kids out there and they can make something of their footy, and if not, just become better people.
“I was bit nervous (during my first day in class), it’s a long time since I have been there at school.
“It was nerve-wracking at the start to be in front of the class, but I used my big boy voice, so sometimes when I have got to training, it’s a bit croaky and worn out.
“And being called 'sir' is different, with everyone here at training calling me Dezzy and everything like that to sir or Mr Nicholls... it’s a bit different.”
Nicholls comes to the club after two seasons with St George Illawarra Dragons, where he made three NRL appearances and helped the Canterbury Cup team to the minor premiership last year.
Signed to the Brisbane Broncos on a train and trial deal, Nicholls is no stranger to the Intrust Super Cup competition and was a member of Redcliffe Dolphins’ 2016 grand final team. He also previously played with Norths Devils.
“I am loving being at Souths at the moment - a great bunch of lads and coaching staff and really excited for the season to start,” Nicholls said.
“I like Queensland, I played at Redcliffe and also Norths Devils, so this is my third club up here. I loved my time up here before, just had to convince the partner to come up, but she is up here now, she is on board.”
This year, Nicholls, who also captained Penrith Panthers to their NRL State Championship win over PNG Hunters in 2017, said he hoped to help the Magpies have a strong year on the field.
“I am raring to go for the season and am looking forward to a big year hopefully and to really improve on last season,” Nicholls said.
“(My goals are) just to get through my first year of teaching unscathed. There’s a couple of goals there... I want to develop the players as best as I can at school and also become a better teacher and learn of the staff there at Marsden.
“At Souths here, I want to be in the finals series.
“Personal goals, I want to be the best leader I can be for this year and give as much knowledge as I can - use my experience to make this side better.
“I am really looking forward to the challenge of balancing football and work and JB (Magpies coach Jon Buchanan) has been really supportive of that.”
Souths Logan Magpies gains and losses
Darren Nicholls (St George Illawarra Dragons), Faitotoa Faitotoa (Redcliffe Dolphins), James Taylor (Redcliffe Dolphins), Jack Goodsell (Wynnum Seagulls), Kelly Tate (Wynnum Seagulls), Matt Groat (Wynnum Seagulls), Christian Hazard (Tweed Seagulls), Cole Waaka (New Zealand Warriors), Trent Schaumkel (Sunshine Coast Falcons), Jack Hickson (Mackay Cutters)
Matt Soper-Lawler (Newcastle Knights), Manaia Cherrington (overseas), Brendon Gibb (retired), Sam Tagataese (retired), Shaun Fensom (retired), George Fai (rugby union), Patrick Mago (Souths Sydney Rabbitohs), Linc Port (Easts Tigers)
*Gains and losses list provided by the club and correct at time of publication
2020 gains and losses