ANTHONY Gelling hopes he has overcome his “bumpy” start to his Wigan career – and can now press his claim for regular first-team action.
The imposing Kiwi – recruited in the off-season from lower-league outfit Auckland Vulcans – had to wait until last Monday for his full debut.
He marked the occasion by scoring one try and creating another, and earning wide-spread praise for an all-round encouraging display in the 36-6 win against Wakefield.
Gelling – whose only previous first-team experience had come off the bench in the shock 37-36 defeat at Widnes a month earlier – is expected to keep his place for Sunday’s visit of lowly Crusaders in the fourth round of the Challenge Cup.
And with winger Pat Richards inching close to full fitness after an injury lay-off, the 21-year-old knows he is under pressure to perform.
Gelling said: “I knew it was going to be a bit bumpy for me, because our starting team is really strong.
“Cracking into it was always going to take some time, so it was nice to get the chance to play – and home as well.
“I really enjoyed it. I can put the disappointment of the first one, at Widnes, behind me now.
“Hopefully I can keep showing up and doing well.”
Richards, battling a thigh problem, remains doubtful for this Sunday but could be back for the Super League clash at Hull FC next Sunday, April 22.
And while the Australian goal-kicker would appear nailed-on to reclaim his position, Gelling hopes his versatility – he can play wing, centre or second-row – will work in his favour. “I know Paddy’ll be back, but I want to stay around the team,” said Gelling, who was working as a labourer before Wigan came knocking on his door.
“Even if it’s on the bench, to cover back-row or the backs – hopefully that versatility may help me.”
Shaun Wane took a gamble on signing Cook Islands international Gelling, considering he had not played at the top-level Down Under.
But the coach hopes he has unearthed a gem.
Wane said: “He has to work on technical decisions in defence, he’s a big body, he’s athletic and he’ll get better as time goes on.”