TAKING IT ON: Grafton Ghosts front rower Brett Wicks will pick up the coach's clipboard for the first time next season when he leads the club's reserve grade side.
TAKING IT ON: Grafton Ghosts front rower Brett Wicks will pick up the coach's clipboard for the first time next season when he leads the club's reserve grade side. Matthew Elkerton

Wicks throws his hat in the coaching ring

RUGBY LEAGUE: Brett Wicks is a man who lets his actions on the field do the talking, but it was his moves off the field that turned heads this week.

The workhorse front-rower has taken on the challenge of leading the Grafton Ghosts reserve grade side in 2019, completing the Wicks coaching set for the Group 2 club, with older brother Danny steering first grade again.

It will be a step into the unknown for Wicks, who has never picked up the clipboard over his years in the sport.

"I haven't even coached a juniors side before, this is definitely out of my comfort zone," he said. "But I am one who enjoys getting out and challenging myself.

"There is no use retiring from the game thinking about the what-ifs. (Ghosts president) Gary Gillespie approached me with the opportunity and I am keen to run with it."

Despite the season not starting until April, the Ghosts junior has exhausted his long list of football contacts to start building what could be a successful reserve grade outfit.

But he is playing his cards close to his chest at this stage.

"I have been on the blower a fair bit, and a few of the boys I grew up with playing for the Ghosts who haven't played in a few years said they were willing to come back to the side," he said.

"I don't want to say anything until they sign on the dotted line, but there is definitely a few blokes who are keen."

If there is one thing Wicks knows, is that whoever comes to the fold, he will stand right alongside them on the field.

Not willing to give up the sport he loves, Wicks will conduct the role as a playing coach with the support of former Lower Clarence Magpies stalwart Darrin Heron.

Heron was a key cog in the coaching staff of the Ghosts league tag side last season which made it to the preliminary finals. His inclusion on the sidelines for reserve grade will definitely free up Wicks.

"I want to play and coach the reserve grade boys," Wicks said. "That is my team and I want to be there side-by-side with them on the field."

While their first grade side has tasted lots of success in recent seasons, taking out the Clayton's Cup in 2017, the reserve grade outfit has struggled for consistency.

Since winning back-to-back reserve grade titles in 2014 and 2015, the side has only made it to the semi-finals once, and only last year finished at the bottom of the ladder.

"We really want to reclaim some of the form we had back in the glory years," Wicks said. "We want to have a good environment around the reserve grade boys, no one wants to go out and get flogged and get hurt each week.

"I think we will have a good side, and there are a few young blokes who played great with our under-18s last season that are also knocking on the door."

While Group 2 has introduced a new rule to allow club's four fresh reserves in first grade, Wicks has not given up on playing in the top grade.

"I will miss starting in first grade, but if Danny is willing to have one less fresh player on the bench I have definitely got the hand up."

The Ghosts are expected to kickstart pre-season training in January, with the Group 2 season returning in early April.



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