Wicks breathes fire
y TONY WHITE
DANNY Wicks' body is still aching from head to toe.
"I feel like I've been bouncing off brick walls," he said yesterday after making an auspicious NRL first-grade debut for the St George-Illawarra Dragons at WIN Stadium, Wollongong, on Saturday night.
Wicks, the 20-year-old former Grafton Ghost, endured a baptism of fire against tough tackling New Zealand Warriors, scoring a try, narrowly missing another, and won praise from the opposition, coach Nathan Brown and rugby league hierarchy for his impressive performance.
The Dragons 22-16 win was icing on the cake.
Wicks admitted to being a bundle of nerves before taking the field from the bench.
"I was shaking that much before I went on it wasn't funny," the 105kg backrower said. "I had to get involved early to settle the nerves. After three touches I was lucky enough to score and that got rid of the nerves."
After crossing for the four-pointer (try), Wicks was noticed making a poignant gesture to a section of the nearby crowd.
"Unbelievably I scored the try right in front of where my parents (Sandra and Gary) were sitting," Wicks revealed.
"That's why I pointed to them."
Wicks first-grade debut proved a real eye-opener.
"It was pretty good, hey?" he suggested.
"First grade is that fast compared to Premier League it's not funny. It's three or four times faster, easily.
"There's more talk, it's more professional and more enjoyable, especially when you do good and score a try.
"And the contact, wow. Running at them Kiwi boys is like hitting a brick wall.
"In Premier League I'm normally one of the biggest blokes but I was looking up to about six or seven of them (Warriors). I thought there would be a bit of a whisper in my ear (sledging), me making my debut, but there was nothing.
"Steve Price (Warriors captain) even came up to me after the game and congratulated me. He said 'Good stuff on debut. Best of luck in the future'. That was pretty good."
And importantly Wicks got a good report from St George coach, Clarence Valley-raised, Nathan Brown.
"Yeah, Brownie said I went well. He was happy with my game," Wicks said.
Former international Laurie Daley was one of several league commentators to praise Wicks' efforts.
After attending a St George function after the game, Wicks travelled back to Grafton with his parents and to catch up and celebrate with his Grafton mates for a few days before heading back to Sydney. St George have a bye this weekend.