CROSSING THE LINE: Danny Wicks stretches out for a try while playing for Grafton Ghosts against Northern United. BELOW RIGHT: Wicks arrives at Newcastle District Court in September 2011.
CROSSING THE LINE: Danny Wicks stretches out for a try while playing for Grafton Ghosts against Northern United. BELOW RIGHT: Wicks arrives at Newcastle District Court in September 2011. FILE AAP

Lower comes up empty in bid for Danny Wicks

FORMER Newcastle Knight Danny Wicks will not play for the Lower Clarence Magpies in the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League this season.

Wicks was released from jail last year, 18 months into a three-year term for drug trafficking.

He was suspended by the National Rugby League for four years for the same offence.

The suspension, which is the minimum penalty under the World Anti Doping Authority, is due to end in September this year.

The Magpies made an ambitious play for the powerhouse front-rower, but the application was rejected earlier this week.

Magpies coach Nathan Pettit said he heard the news on Monday.

"It would've been good to have him on board," Pettit said.

"He's a quality player and is already in the area but they're going to make him serve the rest of the ban."

Wicks' inability to line up for the Magpies leaves an even bigger hole in their recruitment for the 2014 season.

They have struggled to bring big names to the club, and will rely on local strength.

Meanwhile, Pettit has explained some of the reasoning behind the club's move to have all home games played on Saturdays.

He said it was a move by the club to ensure they had "fresh players", which does not happen if players also play rugby union.

"We're getting players second-hand," Pettit said.

"It's not just a game of rugby but it's the drinking with teammates afterwards as well as fatigue the next day.

"We want our players as fresh as possible.

"We don't know if it will work yet - we will have to wait until the season starts for that - but the players will make up their own mind."

Pettit said the team was getting good numbers to training, with preparation for the opening clash with Kyogle well on track.

His next challenge is to ensure the team begins winning and pays the local community back.

"I'm not sure how the crowds will go but we have to start winning games again," Pettit said.