The Eels celebrate Danny Wicks's try against Cronulla on Saturday.

There was a time when Danny Wicks thought he'd never play rugby league again. Now he's on the verge of playing his 100th game in the NRL. 

The Grafton Ghosts junior was at the peak of his powers in 2009 when he was arrested on drugs charges, and was subsequently imprisoned for 18 months.

On top of the criminal charges, Wicks was banned from playing rugby league for four years by WADA.

 


There was every chance he could have given up on returning to the game, and while he contemplated it, Wicks decided to resurrect his career instead.

It's a decade since he broke onto the rugby league scene with a try in each of his first two games for the Dragons, before moving to the Newcastle Knights for the 2008 and 2009 seasons where he played some of his best football. 

Following his five year hiatus from the game, and with his career at a crossroads, Wicks joined the Parramatta Eels last season and hasn't looked back since. 

Ten years after he made his first-grade debut, Wicks is set to run out for the 100th time when the Eels host the Roosters on Friday night. 

Wicks said he will be forever grateful for the lifeline thrown to him by Parramatta coach Brad Arthur, and hopes he can extend his stay at the blue and golds when his contract expires at the end of the season. 

"It's been, in one word, a rollercoaster. I've been on the highs and the lows," Wicks described his career. 

"I'm only playing 100 games at the moment, but I had five years out. It's a milestone I'm proud of and my family's proud of. 

"There was a point in my life where I was happy to be where I was. I got a few under my belt, but fortunately enough Brad gave me the opportunity. I'm doing my best for him and I'm stoked." 

Wicks' story of redemption hasn't been lost on the playing group, with fellow Eel David Gower full of praise for his teammate's resolve. 

"It's well documented what's happened to Danny in the past so it's a big thing for him to play 100 games," Gower said. 

"To stay at it and have five years out and to come back and be successful is a massive achievement for him and we're very proud of him. 

"We're going to make a big point of going out and playing well for him this weekend and hopefully we can get the win for him, our club and our fans."

It's fitting that the 30-year-old will notch his century of games against the Tricolours.

Back in 2008, Wicks did what prop forwards can only dream about, having picked  the ball up from dummy-half 15 metres short of halfway, Wicks broke through the first wave of Roosters defenders, swerved around fullback Sam Perrett before outsprinting the cover defence to score one of the tries of the year.

Wicks laughed off any suggestions he'd do something similar this time around, telling media he was just happy to be back on the footy field. 

"You'll have to run me through it. I've forgotten all about it," he joked. 

"That was a few years and a few kilos ago. I enjoy playing any game of NRL, to be honest. It doesn't matter whether it's the Roosters, the Titans or anyone else."