Wicks's happy Newcastle return
One of the last times Danny Wicks was in the Hunter back in 2011, he was informed in Newcastle Court he would serve an 18-month non-parole period in Glen Innes Correctional Centre for drug trafficking.
Yet following his starring role in the Eels' 28-22 win over his former club the Knights on Sunday, Wicks was able to at least rid of some demons in a week full of mixed emotions for the 29-year-old.
"It was a fair week in build up for me personally obviously because I did the wrong thing in the past but it was a really good feeling to get the win," Wicks said.
"I suppose emotional is a word you can use [for my past week]. I was looking forward to it but at the same time I wasn't for obvious reasons.
"I was expecting a bit of backlash from the crowd but I was here to do a job and I think I did that. I didn't really hear much from the crowd either. I think I did hear a clap there at one stage though.
"There was no sledging at all [because] I don't really keep in contact with any of [my former Knights teammates] now. They obviously have to distance themselves because of my actions many years ago. There are no ill-feelings or anything like that because of it though."
Wicks, who quickly became a cult figure in Newcastle, played 40 NRL games for the Knights between 2008 and 2009 before leaving the club soon after, after he was charged with drug trafficking and three counts of supplying illicit substances.
Jailed in late-2011 and released in March 2013, Wicks slowly worked back an itch to resume his NRL career which looked to have concluded in 2009.
Having lost upwards of $1 million in potential salary from his off-field mistakes over the five years he didn't play in the NRL, Wicks has since turned his life around completely and has been one of Parramatta coach Brad Arthur's shining lights this season.
It was best demonstrated when Wicks chased down Newcastle halfback Tyrone Roberts in the final minute of the game to prevent any chance of Newcastle scoring a last-gasp win, where he was mobbed by his fellow teammates in yellow who were quick to celebrate his clutch tackle.
"It was fitting for me that Danny made that last tackle at the end of the game to force the error," Wicks's coach Brad Arthur said post-game.
"That's how important and how much it meant to him [to play up here]."
A modest Wicks however refused to take any credit for his efforts in producing the tackle on a runaway Roberts, even as he battled a punctured lip wound which required stitches following the game.
After making 113 metres and 30 tackles against the Knights, Wicks was able to celebrate his re-signing accordingly – which occurred less than two weeks ago – with the Eels snapping up their two-game losing streak.
By labelling it his "second and last chance in the NRL", Wicks said the Eels won't have any regrets over choosing to exercise the prop's second-year option in his contract because, quite frankly, he won't allow them the opportunity.
"I have a family I'm responsible for now. I don't have so much of a point to prove other than to just do my best for every single one of the boys and Brad," Wicks said.
"I'm over the moon about re-signing. They took the second-year option on my contract which left me saying 'thank you very much, I'll take that'.
"It's something the club isn't going to regret, they really won't."