LEAVING THE NRL: Danny Wicks is returning home to the Clarence Valley after closing the book on a storied NRL career.
LEAVING THE NRL: Danny Wicks is returning home to the Clarence Valley after closing the book on a storied NRL career. AAP/PAUL MILLER

Danny Wicks quits NRL: 'He deserves a happy ending'

NRL: Danny Wicks has closed the book on what has been a long road to redemption.

The 30-year-old father of two is ready to open the next chapter of his life back in his home town of Yamba with wife Leona and family.

Wicks informed Parramatta Eels coach Brad Arthur and teammates on Monday, the first day back in camp after what was one of the best seasons of his career.

Wicks' manager Steve Gillis spoke to The Daily Examiner and explained it was a tough decision for the former Dragons and Knights front rower.

"Danny gave plenty of thought to the decision but made it in the best interests of both himself, his wife and his young kids," Gillis said.

"(He) is a country boy at heart. City life and life in Yamba are chalk and cheese. He loves family and friends and is a very keen fisherman... He'd much prefer to be home despite the financial sacrifices he will now endure."

Wicks' storied comeback to the NRL was complete last year when he took the field for the Eels after four years out of the game and a high-profile 18-month jail sentence for drug trafficking charges.

The perseverance Wicks showed to get back on the field shone during the 2016 season as the front rower continued to take charge each week despite the toughest season off the field for the plagued club.

 

Eels player Danny Wicks reacts during the Round 20 NRL match between the Gold Coast Titans and the Parramatta Eels at CBUS Stadium on the Gold Coast, Saturday, June 23, 2016. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Eels player Danny Wicks reacts during the Round 20 NRL match between the Gold Coast Titans and the Parramatta Eels at CBUS Stadium on the Gold Coast, Saturday, June 23, 2016. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY DAVE HUNT

Gillis, who said he was "proud to call Wicks a friend", believes the powerhouse forward's comeback over the last two seasons, which included 32 games in the blue and gold, had earned him the respect of his peers.

"Danny's re-emergence in rugby league has never gained the credence it deserved," Gillis said.

"To miss four years of football and then come back and not only compete at NRL level but to do it comfortably, indicates that Danny is an incredible athlete.

"He made a mistake and has learned from that. He paid a very heavy price. Today he does a lot of good work behind the scenes in Sydney for charities which has gone unnoticed."

Parramatta coach Brad Arthur said Wicks' departure from the club would be felt both on and off the field.

"Danny has made a wonderful contribution to our club in the last two seasons both on and off the field," Arthur told News Corp.

"He just went home, got married and decided not to come back. Danny's not driven by money or ego. He's just a genuine all-round good Aussie bloke.

"We'll miss his footy but we'll miss him more as a person. A really great bloke."

 

NRRRL league match between the Grafton Ghosts and United. Pictured for the Ghosts is Danny Wicks.
NRRRL league match between the Grafton Ghosts and United. Pictured for the Ghosts is Danny Wicks.

While Wicks has described his retirement as a departure from the game, Gillis left the door wide open for the possibility of a return to the local code.

"It's very early days but I have a feeling he will want to continue within the game somewhere," Gillis said. "Just not sure where at this stage but I know he has a soft spot for the Ghosts."

No matter where Wicks ends up in his next chapter, the front rower has closed this one on his own terms.

"He deserves a happy ending," Gillis said.



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