South Sydney prop Mark Nicholls admitted to shock at the ease with which he scored a try against Brisbane in Friday night's 28-10 triumph at ANZ Stadium.
Nicholls charged through the Broncos front row of Matt Lodge, Payne Haas and Jake Turpin from a tap re-start to claim his second try in three weeks.just before half-time but it wasn't his intention to score.
Instead, he had been taking a hit-up ahead of a play on the second tackle when he forced his way over after receiving a pass from hooker Damien Cook.
“It sort of just opened up for me. I am still in shock,” Nicholls said. “It was pretty easy for me in the end.
"It was actually one in for a short side play and the boys were standing back behind the 10-metre line ready to put the play on but I managed to get over the line instead, which was good.”
Nicholls said assistant coach Jason Demetriou had confirmed why he has been appointed to succeed Wayne Bennett after deputising for the seven-times premiership winning mentor in his first match as a head coach.
Match Highlights: Rabbitohs v Broncos
With Bennett forced to isolate for 14 days after breaching the NRL’s strict COVID-19 biosecurity rules, Demetriou was thrust into the role with just 24 hours before Friday night’s match but Souths players said they didn’t notice any difference.
“It wasn’t really spoken about,” Nicholls said.
“We finished training yesterday and found out Wayne was going to be stood down for two weeks. No one really spoke about it today. It’s like when a player goes down or injured or gets suspended the next bloke comes up and does his job.
“JD took over as coach and we just got on with it. It was kind of a bit weird actually, it was like nothing had happened. I think that is a good mentality to have for us.
“JD is ready to go. He has had big wraps on him for a couple of years and he is going to be a coach in a couple of seasons so I am sure it was good experience for him to take over tonight and he gets another chance next week.”
After watching the match from home, Bennett phoned Demetriou to congratulate him and the players on a clinical performance.
“He just said congratulations, the boys did a great job,” Demetriou said. “Everything we spoke about during the week was about putting them inside their 20 and taking our chances when we got on the tryline. The boys did that well.
“It was very professional tonight I thought. Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker controlled the game very well and were prepared to break them down and take their chances when they came.”
Nicholls catches the Broncos napping
Demetriou, who will take over from Bennett at the end of the 2021 season, said the only real change in his absence was that he was able to be louder in the coach’s box.
“It was a crazy 24 hours but the week was pretty much done,” he said. “Wayne and the staff had prepared the boys well so today was pretty easy.
“It was just about coming here and making sure the messages during the week were the messages the players got.
"I have always said if you are coaching on game day you haven’t done your job during the week and the boys knew what their job was and they did it well.”