Oliver Gildart hopes to press his international claims tomorrow night – against the ‘special’ player celebrating a personal milestone.
Kallum Watkins, widely regarded as one of the country’s best centres, will chalk up his 200th game for Leeds.
Gildart is a big admirer of the 26-year-old, and hopes to put a dampener on his occasion by making his own mark on the televised showdown.
“Every time I’ve played him you’ve got to be switched on,” said Gildart, back in the side after a shoulder injury.
“He can turn nothing into something, he’s a really special player, a real athlete and when you play against him you need to be on your game.”
Gildart started this season scorching form, scoring tries in all three of his games – and linking well with those around him on the left edge – before being ruled out injured.
Some have already tipped him to join Watkins in the England squad for the World Cup at the of the year.
And if he doesn’t do enough to catch Wayne Bennett’s eye, the 20-year-old has a back-up plan for the end-of-season tournament.
“Hopefully I can play well and get picked in the England team,” said Gildart. “If not, the Italy manager has called me and said he’d love to have me on board.
“I qualify through my mum’s side of the family.
“He understands that England is my main priority, but if I don’t get picked he’d love to have me and I think it’d be a really good experience.”
Gildart is one of three players returning to Shaun Wane’s side, along with Liam Farrell and Ryan Sutton, in a sign the Warriors’ injury woes are easing.
“We’ve missed Oli’, he’d made the position his own and it’ll be good to have him back,” said Wane. “He’d played out of his skin on that left edge, along with Faz and George Williams.”
Gildart himself is counting the hours until tomorrow’s clash against the side one point, and one place, ahead of them in the Super League table.
“Touch wood I’ve not had many injuries, but it’s been frustrating getting flogged on the Wattbike when everyone else has been outside training,” he said.
“I’m struggling after four weeks so it’s a credit to those blokes who are out longer, how they deal with it.
“We were getting some form on our edge and typical of our luck, we dropped like flies. It’ll be good to get back out there again.”