Michael Wicks and his Dog Popeye, 1987


Mako Shark
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Dec 16, 2005
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Monty Porter Stand
Michael Wicks struggled with off-field problems during his time with the club, but this photo was taken after he "produced a sensational display of power tackling against Balmain" in March 1987.

The RLW article described "a series of thundering tackles" which won Wicks the game ball (man of the match).


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Sep 7, 2005
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In Surgery
The legacy of Jack Gibson
By Paul Kent
May 14, 2008 12:00AM


RIP Jack Gibson ... the original supercoach improved the life of Michael Wicks, who had a troubled youth. Source: The Daily Telegraph

MICHAEL Wicks was a man a lot of people gave up on a long time ago.

Too much of a wildcat to ever really control, Wicks was a rugby league talent but, most conceded, he was struggling off-field.

The one they retell most was when he swam across Gunnamatta Bay when, on a whim, he just had to see Jack Gibson.

Jack opened the door to see Wicks standing there wearing nothing but Speedos and a knife. The blade was in case of shark attack.

He had his contract torn up at Cronulla in the late '80s, he walked out on Wests in the early '90s, telling the reserve- grade coach Peter Mulholland: "I'm going to bring the club into disrepute.''

Football was a car wreck, and the tragedy was he was travelling even worse outside of football.

In fact, it could be argued that much of what was happening in his home life was the catalyst for the wrecking machine on the football field. His mother, Marie, died of cancer in 1985, when Wicks was 19 and far too impressionable.

His father, Colin, was a coalminer in the coalminer mould, and drowned his pain in drink. Wicks found a different sedative. He was a heavy cannabis smoker and when that failed to dull the ache he would then turn to alcohol and then, well, anything was possible.

And at 110kg, it was pretty hard to stop, too.

There was more pain few ever knew about. At the time his mother died his oldest brother Mark became Megan: again he self-medicated.

He took a long time to realise he could not control his behaviour under the influence and that he needed to give the drink away. With all that was going wrong, a lot of people felt comfortable giving up on Michael Wicks.

The one man who didn't was Jack Gibson.

Jack got him to Cronulla, brought him back on incentives when the original contract was torn up and when he failed again Jack found him a job coaching bush football. He saw something in Michael Wicks, a flame he wasn't going to let burn out.

Few know it, but when they bury Jack today and all those stories are told by all those champions about how Jack was always helping them and others, Michael Wicks will remain the man Jack considered his greatest success.

Now, through Jack's gentle guidance, Wicks is a drug and alcohol counsellor on the North Coast, helping kids deal with problems much like his own were. He is studying his honours in psychology.

He has been sober 18 years.

And he thanks Jack, who would call from time to time to talk life and kids and then leave him be.

"He was someone I felt really cared for me,'' he said. "Someone really special, that had a lot of credibility, and someone I felt humbled to be around. And when I think that he cared for me ...''

Wicks heard of Jack's death like everyone else, he said, watching last Friday's Test. He had known Jack was sick, but every time he looked at the phone he felt he was meddling in family business so he didn't make the call.

He can't remember much of the first half hour of the Test, sitting there thinking about Jack, but next morning he called the family home.

They were glad to receive it.

"It was always like Jack was looking over you, or knew how we were doing from a distance for a long time,'' he said. "Honestly, to tell you the truth, I haven't been in contact with him that often, for quite a few years.

"But in a way, and this is tough because I love my father, but he was like a father figure. It was like that because of the trust that he put in me and because I trusted his judgment. His trust helped me to be a better person, and to repay that trust I have continued to try and keep bettering myself and be a better person.

"I don't know whether that sums up how close I was to him, but ...''

Wicks spent all day yesterday driving to Sydney to be at today's funeral.

He slept the night at Jack's place.