WICKS IGNITES

By TONY WHITE

THE euphoria and memories surrounding a NRL grand final win is something Grafton-born Danny Wicks will cherish for a lifetime.

Wicks, the 108kg former Grafton Ghosts back-rower, played a significant role in the St George team that defeated Parramatta 30-20 to win the Jersey Flegg grand final at Telstra Stadium on Sunday.

"Mate, the feeling is just unbelievable," Wicks said yesterday. "When the final whistle went it was amazing, just the best feeling ever.

"You train all year and to finally get up and win the premiership is just great, really great, especially being able to celebrate it with your teammates."

Incredibly, 19-year-old Wicks has enjoyed grand final success in his first season with St George and the major triumph was shared by his family ? proud father Gary, mum Sandra and brother Brett.

"It was real good having the family there. The old man (Gary) was happy as on the sidelines," Wicks said. "He was grinning from ear to ear. I don't think the smile will go for ages."

When The Daily Examiner caught up with the talented forward he was in the throws of celebrating the traditional 'mad Monday'.

St George's win ? they were red hot favourites after winning the minor premiership ? didn't come without drama. The side managed to come from behind twice.

"All week our coach Steve Price said to treat the match as another game and don't believe we are favourites," Wicks said.

"I wasn't nervous at all before the game.

"We had a game plan and we stuck to it. In the first half our completion rate was about 60 to 70 per cent and Parramatta about 90 per cent.

"They threw everything they had at us but we managed to hold them out. In the second half we didn't panic. Everyone was really positive.

"I think our defence and fitness made the difference. It's a great side."

The young tearaway admitted to a heavy night of celebrating the historic grand final win.

"After the game we all went back to the club (St George) and stayed until about midnight," Wicks said.

"Then people went their own ways. Some went into town others went to other pubs and kicked on.

"I'm feeling like the walking dead but it's great. I've only had a couple of hours sleep but we're all going around to Dave Barnes place today to get together and celebrate with all the players. It's mad Monday ... yeah."

Wicks, managed by Steve 'Chimes' Gillis, has signed with St George for another two years.

"I go up to Premier League next year and I'll just be trying to put my best foot forward and hopefully get a start in first grade somewhere," he said.

"I'm loving it here and Wollongong is not a bad place to live.

"Compared to home the professionalism here is unbelievable. We train four or five times a week, every 'i' has to be dotted and every 't' crossed. Nothing is missed.

"They (the coaching staff) work really hard with the players.

"I think there's five or six different trainers and Browny (first-grade coach Nathan Brown) often takes time out of his busy schedule to come and work with us (Jersey Flegg)."

St George legend Craig Young, who initially signed Wicks, has become the lad's mentor since joining the famous club.

"Craig has been terrific. He was real happy us winning the grand final," Wicks said.

"St George is a sensational club. I'm loving it down here and can't wait for next year ... after we finish celebrating."

Wicks will return home to Grafton tomorrow to catch up with his family and mates.



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