Mark Nicholls on THAT long-range try

Published 1:43pm 14 May 2024

Mark Nicholls on THAT long-range try
Words by Kylie Knight

He’s the man they call the GOAT and, while Mark Nicholls is not renowned for being the greatest long-range try scorer, his remarkable 20m run to the try line last week thrilled fans, his teammates and coaches.

He talked us through that moment and suggestion he should try his luck on the wing or as fullback …

“I don’t think I’ve scored any tries more than five metres out. On Thursday night, I got the ball with about 20m to go. It was a bit foreign to me … I think my head was trying to get there quicker than my legs could go,” Nicholls recalled.

“Fortunately for me, there were no Manly players around to run me down. It was nice to score one of those long-range tries.”

There’s no serious suggestion the veteran prop should change position, just a tongue-in-cheek question from Moreton Daily at this morning’s post-training press conference.

“I do joke that Jamayne gets to run in tries and he makes it look easy … on the weekend, I didn’t make it look real easy. Maybe I’ll stay in the middle and let Jamayne score the 20 tries he gets to score every year,” he said laughing.

So, have there been new footy boot sponsorship offers as a result of his powering run against Manly in the Dolphins’ 30-24 win in round 10?

“I’m yet to hear. Crickets from Nike. You know where to find me … @markynico on Instagram if you want to give me some Nike boots. I’m a try-scoring machine,” he said laughing.

Multi-national sports brands may not be lining up, but he impressed Head Coach Wayne Bennett who said the ‘GPS went off the Richter scale’ as the 34-year-old forward barrelled towards the try line.

“He got that excited himself to see the try line coming up he just about fell over. He’s unbelievable,” Bennett said after the game.

“The fastest 15m of all time, I’d say.”

Nicholls explains the stumble and subsequent try.

“Normally in that situation, there are players coming across and trying to save the try. I caught the ball and I knew 20m was probably a little bit out of my range and my head really wanted to get to the try line because I could see open space in front of me,” he said.

“I was bit worried there might be someone there … As I gathered my legs, I sort of noticed there was no-one there. In hindsight, I should have run around and put it under the posts, but I thought Jamayne would be able to kick it from where I put it down.”

Nicholls has scored 12 tries in 158 appearances, two of these this season and three last year for the Dolphins.

See the try in photos 

Courtesy of Dolphins NRL Media/NRL

Focus shifts to Magic Round

Despite Nicholls’ heroics, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow will reclaim his fullback position this week after recovering from a hamstring injury.

“I’m sure he’s itching to play, obviously Origin’s just around the corner so I’m sure he can’t wait to get out there and play some footy, and get some match fitness. We know what he brings to our team, so hopefully he can score some tries,” Nicholls said.

“Any half-opportunity, he’s got that speed that’s just going to be able to finish it off. For us, he’s really good at the defence side of it, organising the numbers and getting the forwards to flip when they need to … all the stuff that the fullback needs to be really good at in the modern game.

“Hammer’s really good at that. That will help us forwards defensively and for the fans, hopefully he can score some long-range tries.”

Tabuai-Fidow’s return will come at the expense of Trai Fuller who has filled in admirably, scoring a couple of sensational tries himself and working hard in defence.

“Trai’s done a really, really good job for us. He’s been our players’ player pretty much every game he’s played. I think Wayne said this morning, he’s never seen (that) before,” Nicholls said.

“It’s good knowing that if anything was to happen to Hammer … obviously, he’ll probably get picked for Origin … so, there’s going to be more opportunities for Trai.

“It’s a really good sign of where we’re at as a club and a team that players like Trai, Kenny Bromwich on the weekend … players like that aren’t getting a game in our 17. It puts everyone on their toes and you know you have to perform week in, week out if you want to stay in the side.”

Max Plath will miss the Magic Round clash against Wests Tigers due to concussion protocols. Thomas Flegler is still out with a shoulder injury and Tom Gilbert had surgery today on a ruptured ACL.

Nicholls says the Tigers were ‘pretty tricky’ when the Dolphins faced them in round five. The Dolphins won 26-16.

“We didn’t put them away until late. They’ve obviously lost a few games now, but they’ve been close games. We know they’re going to turn up and put in a good performance,” he said.

“We haven’t been able to string games together – last year and the start of this year – been going win/loss, win/loss a bit. It’s really important for us to turn up this weekend as we did last week, and everyone put in a good performance and make sure we get the job done.”

The Dolphins’ Magic Round (round 11) clash against Wests Tigers will be the final game of the round at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday (6.25pm kick-off).

Dolphins are fourth on the ladder, while the Tigers are 15th.

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