Warrior Gildart plans Italian job

Oliver Gildart
Oliver Gildart

Wigan’s rising star Oliver Gildart will be playing in the end of season World Cup, even if he fails to receive an England call-up.

The 20-year-old centre has not given up hope of a late call from Wayne Bennett but has Italy to fall back on courtesy of his Italian grandad Bob.

“He’s my mum’s dad,” said Gildart. “I’ve never met any of the Italian side of my family but my grandad keeps them up to date with how I’m doing.

“Hopefully I’ll get the chance to meet them one day.

“I’ve been speaking to Italy and they have said they would love to have me on board. They know my priority lies with England but they’ve said ‘if you’re not selected, you’re more than welcome to come’. I really appreciate that.

“I’ve not heard anything from England, so I’ve just got to keep getting my head down and hopefully something will come of it. It would be good for me to go to the World Cup.”

Meanwhile, Gildart has more pressing matters, although still family-related, as he targets a first Challenge Cup final appearance.

He has been a spectator in the past but his hopes of running out at Wembley were dashed 12 months ago when Wigan lost to Hull in the semi-finals.

They are hoping to go one step further when they meet Salford in the second semi at Warrington on Sunday, where victory would enable Gildart to follow in the footsteps of his father Ian, who was a member of Wigan’s all-conquering side of the late 80s and early 90s.

“I used to watch footage of him walking out at Wembley,” Gildart junior said. “He’s been there a few times.

“My mum loves it, she hopes to be getting dolled up again. They’ve got some great memories from Wembley and hopefully I can make my own.”

Gildart is still making up for lost time after suffering three fractures in his vertebrae during a league game at Leeds in March.

He was forced to miss 10 matches but has played in the last seven and scored two tries in Wigan’s 34-0 win over the Rhinos last Friday.

“I was getting a bit of form when I got that injury,” he said. “I was gutted about that.

“But we’re coming to the business end of the season and we’ve some massive games coming up, starting on Sunday. I’ve just got to keep putting performances in.

“It took me four or five games to get back into it - I was getting back pain when I went into tackles and it was affecting my carries. I was kind of not committing to things.

“But each week it’s been getting better and for the last two or three games I’ve not felt it.

“I still get pain now on a morning, it’s pretty stiff, and I will probably have that quite a while.”

Gildart, who made his Super League debut for Salford during a brief spell on loan with the Red Devils in 2015, has already won a Grand Final ring and was in the Warriors team that lifted the World Club Challenge at the start of the year.

And he now wants to complete the set.

“Obviously I wanted to win a Grand Final and now the next one for me is Wembley,” he said. “We’re one game away.

“We just felt short last year and I was gutted.

“It’s going to be a real tough challenge against Salford but we’re confident.”