Dolphins Prop Mark ‘the GOAT’ Nicholls has returned to training early from the end-of-season break to get a jump on his fitness for the 2024 season.
And he’s pumped to play alongside three potent new teammates.
He chatted with Moreton Daily after his training session today, looking relaxed and happy to be back.
See the training photos at the end of this story
“I’m officially back next week but I’ve just been coming in once a week just to tick the legs over a little bit. It gets a bit boring running up the oval by yourself, so I just come in and get around the boys a little bit,” Nicholls says.
“It’s good to be back. I had a good rest but at the same time I was a bit excited to come back in which is a good sign.”
Assistant Coach Kristian Woolf also returned today, while Head Coach Wayne Bennet and much of the first-grade squad won’t be back for another couple of weeks.
Nicholls says the focus for the next few weeks will be on fitness and skills work.
“I think the majority of the squad has come back in pretty good condition. We’ve still got some international guys to filter back in,” he says.
“I guess, leading up to Christmas, it’s all about individually trying to get as strong, as fit and as fast as you can. For the new guys and the younger guys, it’s development and trying to upskill them to get them to the level that they need to get to play with us and potentially play NRL next year.
“For the guys that are coming back, that have played NRL, it’s trying to get better. If everyone’s got that mindset, leading to Christmas, we’ll start to do teamwork and especially after Christmas we’ll be humming.”
Three newcomers will add some firepower to the mix - Tom Flegler, Herbie Farnworth and Jake Averillo.
“They’re three quality players. They should add a lot to our team. Jake is back and is pretty quick. It’s one of those things you can’t coach .. speed. He’ll add a bit,” Nicholls says.
“Tommy and Herbie had a successful year at the Broncos … Tommy played some rep footy. I’m excited to work with him too, especially in the middle. He’s tough and aggressive and I’ll think he’ll add a lot to our forward pack.”
There hasn’t been a chance to talk about team goals just yet, but all are working to improve – a vow Head Coach Wayne Bennett made to supporters at the end of their inaugural season.
“I’m sure once we come together as a full squad, we’ll sit down and talk about what we want to do next year,” Nicholls says.
“At the end of the day, you can say you’re going to be better … in theory if you add three quality guys to our team, we should be better but nothing’s given in this game.
“For us, it’s about working hard. In preseason, no team has lost a game … every team is confident and says they’re training well but the evidence is there in March when the season starts. We’ll see where we’re at then.
“I’m excited. The year we had last year and how the community really got behind us … I’m sure the boys can’t wait to rip in and do the community proud again.”
He says he was blown away last season by the level of support at training and at games.
Training photo gallery (click through)
Photos by Dominika Lis
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