Halfback switches states for Residents
For most New South Welshman, the thought of wearing Queensland colours is nothing short of blasphemy, but Redcliffe Dolphins halfback Darren Nicholls will do just that come Sunday's Residents clash at Langlands Park.
Nicholls will make his first appearance for the Queensland Residents, just a year after making his representative debut for the NSW Residents.
Back-up halfback at the Broncos, Nicholls has been rewarded for his stellar form for the Dolphins this year, leading the club's point scoring tally in the Intrust Super Cup.
It puts him fifth in the competition for points scored and his expert game management is a big reason for Redcliffe sitting fourth on the ladder.
Nicholls said although it was a bit strange wearing Queensland colours, he was happy to be rewarded for a good start to the year.
"It's pretty good. When I heard about my selection I was pretty excited. It's a good game to be a part of. I'm very keen to get out there Sunday," Nicholls said.
"The first training session felt a bit weird but the Residents concept is the best from each state competition and its picked on form. I'm representing my Redcliffe team and my teammates.
"I'll get out there with the other boys and it should be a bit of fun.
"Mum and Dad are very happy for me. My older brother Cameron has a few queries because he's a staunch New South Welshmen. He even captained New South Wales touch football.
"My uncle lives in Queensland and gets out to all my games so he'll be there on the weekend."
Nicholls first signed with the Broncos in 2014 before moving to the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the middle of the 2015 season to pursue his NRL dream.
A lack of opportunities behind Rabbitohs regulars Luke Keary, Adam Reynolds and John Sutton saw the 27-year-old return to Brisbane for another crack at the NRL in 2016 and he now feels right at home in the Queensland capital.
"Going back to Souths was a great experience. I spent a bit of time working on the defensive part of my game. They're a good club, but I'm really grateful to be back at the Broncos," Nicholls said.
"I like being there and Wayne [Bennett] has a great system. There's a great bunch of people at the Broncos and that's really good for me.
"Every week I just get out there and do my best. I always want to improve and be a better player each year.
"I always get stuck in after each game and try and work on a few things. I do feel like I'm improving.
"I get out there for my Queensland Cup team and put my best foot forward for them. Being able to play in the game this weekend is a good reward for me."