Saints fire up Wicks
By TONY WHITE
FROM the day he first laced up a pair of footy boots as a seven-year-old Danny Wicks has dreamed of playing first grade in the NRL.
Tomorrow night the former Grafton Ghost gets the chance to live out his dream after being selected in the St George Illawarra Dragons first grade team to take on New Zealand Warriors at WIN Stadium, Wollongong.
"Browny (coach Nathan Brown) came up to me after training on Tuesday and said I'd better ring my parents, I'm playing first grade," Wicks said of his selection.
"I think I said something like 'sweet, great', I was just in shock. It was a big surprise, really a dream come true."
Normally a prop forward, the 105kg powerhouse, will start from the interchange bench and likely to play second-row against the Warriors.
Wicks' rise to first grade has been meteoric.
In his first season with St George last year, he played a starring role in the Dragons 30-20 defeat of Parramatta in the Jersey Flegg grand final. He has played just four games in Premier League this season, scoring three tries against the Manly Sea Eagles.
He is the sixth graduate from the 2005 Jersey Flegg premiership winning side to make first grade.
Wicks still retains close ties with Grafton.
"I'm a Grafton boy through and through," he said. "I still get home a bit and stay in contact with a lot of the Ghosts boys.
"I had a heap of calls from people like Aaron Hartmann (Newcastle) wishing me well and from a lot of my old team mates. It's been great.
"Mum (Sandra) and dad (Gary) are pretty stoked too.
"When I rang them dad was like 'all right that's good son' but mum was mum, emotional and saying things like 'I knew you could do it'.
"There's quiet a few of the family coming down this weekend. It will be good to have them there."
Dad Gary may have played a straight bat to his son, trying to keep his feet on the ground, but he's proud as punch of Danny's achievements.
"Sandra and I and possibly Brett (Danny's younger brother) will be going down for the match. We wouldn't miss it for the world," Gary Wicks said.
For a country lad, Wicks has settled in great to the lifestyle of a professional footballer.
"I'm just loving it," he said. "There's a terrific bunch of blokes here (St George) and it's heaps fun.
"I'll just be giving it my best shot on Saturday. I'm not expecting too much. I'm there to do my best and have fun.
"I'm not looking too far ahead. I'll just do my best and see what happens from there."