IT has been a tough week for Danny Wicks, and Knights coach Brian Smith took the young prop's critics to task yesterday.
Wicks has attracted unwanted scrutiny since Newcastle's 38-18 loss to Canberra last weekend, when he returned from three weeks out with an ankle injury at the expense on reliable toiler Matt White.
The Herald's website has attracted a barrage of feedback from Knights fans about Wicks, most of it unflattering, and Smith made no effort to hide his displeasure at yesterday's weekly media conference.
Smith was confident, however, that the 22-year-old would not allow the criticism to distract him in the lead-up to tomorrow night's must-win game against the North Queensland Cowboys at EnergyAustralia Stadium.
"Wicksy, unlike some people in our game, has got his own set of standards and he's a pretty strong-willed boy," Smith said yesterday.
"I've chatted to him about it.
"I've been on the end of it [criticism] myself, so I know what it's like.
"I think he's got it pretty well covered.
"He's like me, he doesn't take too much notice of it and he tries not to let it affect his performance and life.
"But I doubt if he'll forget. He'll be very much like me if he's like that."
Smith acknowledged that public scrutiny was part and parcel of professional sport.
"It's a tough job to keep everybody happy at this time of year, and I guess you just find out who's with you and who's not at this time of year," Smith said.