Inaugural Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett has convinced Mark Nicholls to follow him from South Sydney to Redcliffe in 2023.
Days after signing Melbourne veteran Jesse Bromwich, the Dolphins further bolstered their front row by securing the services of Nicholls for two seasons.
The 32-year-old prop enjoyed a breakout campaign under Bennett in 2021, achieving cult hero status as the Rabbitohs reached the grand final.
While he was rewarded with a new two-year contract at Redfern in October, the club agreed to release him at the end of 2022 so he can join the Dolphins for their maiden campaign.
"Mark is a hard-working, no-nonsense type of forward that will fit straight into the Dolphins squad," CEO Terry Reader said.
"He has had some real big-match experience with the Rabbitohs in the last few years, including playing in three straight preliminary finals as well as the most recent NRL grand final.
"We see him as someone who will not only add depth and experience to our squad, but a presence who will set an example for younger players on the value of hard work and persistence in the NRL."
After limited opportunities at Canberra and Melbourne, Nicholls has played 82 matches for Souths in four seasons.
"We appreciate Mark coming to us with this request early in the piece so we can plan for the future and we know he will give his all every time he plays for South Sydney throughout 2022, as he has since joining the club for the 2018 season," Rabbitohs CEO Blake Solly said.
"This new contract is a great opportunity for Mark, his wife Perrie and his family to set themselves up for life after football and we didn't feel that it would be the right thing to do to stand in his way.
"Mark has, and will continue to, give great service to this club and we look forward to supporting him and the team, alongside our members, throughout the 2022 season."
The Dolphins' squad is beginning to come together with Nicholls to join Storm forwards Bromwich and Felise Kaufusi, Parramatta's Ray Stone and Brisbane's Jamayne Isaako at the expansion club.
Australian Associated Press