Talking RL: Wane’s gamble paid off

Anthony Gelling
Anthony Gelling

ANTHONY Gelling is more than a walking one-liner. Not just a ‘weirdo’, as Shaun Wane once called him.

Sure, we all applauded when we charged down a penalty against Brisbane, and we all laughed when he arrived at the Good Friday derby on a BMX bike.

But strip away the giggles and the quirks, and his story is one of patience and perseverance paying off spectacularly.

Not long ago, he was working a full-time construction job, playing for Auckland Vulcans in the NSW Cup, his dreams of making the big-time rapidly receding.

But what he didn’t know was Shaun Wane had taken over as coach of Wigan.

And Wane, see, preferred to sign players who were rough diamonds he could polish up. It’s why Ben Flower, Dan Sarginson and Tony Clubb were recruited from the bottom clubs in Super League. Wane watched web footage of Gelling, and took a gamble.

Strip away the giggles and the quirks, and his story is one of patience and perseverance paying off spectacularly

It was a brave move, because Wane was in his first year of head-coach, and his decisions were inevitably going to be scrutinised.

It would have been much easier, and safer, to opt for a three-quarter who was the finished article.

But he stuck to his guns – even when Gelling only played bit-part roles in his first two seasons – and he was rewarded when the Kiwi’s form was good enough to nail down the right-centre berth last term.

And until getting injured at Wakefield, the 24-year-old had established himself as one of the form centres of the competition.

And still he isn’t the finished article.

So Wigan fans should be pleased he has signed a new four-year deal. Gelling should be proud of his progress. And Wane could be forgiven for feeling a sense of self-satisfaction – his gamble paid off.

SALFORD’S evergreen prop Adrian Morley may be making his final appearance at the DW Stadium tomorrow night.

It is the venue, of course, where he was famously sent off after 12 seconds in a Test against Australia in 2003.

Moz says he will always be remembered for that red card.

I don’t like disagreeing with someone so much bigger and tougher than me, but that’s a load of nonsense. I must declare an interest here – I ghost-wrote Moz’s autobiography. But I speak as a fan and a commentator when I say he will be remembered for much, much more.

He’s both a great bloke and one of our greatest ever forwards. He has given us so many memories.

If this is his last game in Wigan – and he hasn’t ruled out playing on beyond his 39th birthday – I hope the Warriors fans give him the appreciation his career deserves.

JOSH Charnley has admitted as much – it’s just not going for him this year. That wild Dan Sarginson pass against St Helens? Watch it back, and you may agree it was Charnley’s fault for not slowing, rather than surging, onto the ball. There’s mitigation, of course. He was disrupted by injury earlier this year. And his centre, Joel Tomkins, is – well – a back-rower filling in due to injury. For his sake, and Wigan’s, let’s hope he rediscovers his golden form soon.

IF a week is a long time in politics, six weeks in rugby league has felt like an eternity.

That’s how long it’s been between Wigan home games. In between, the Warriors have been to France and Newcastle, been knocked out of the Challenge Cup, and beaten two top-four sides to shake off the tag as ‘bad travellers’.

It’s been eventful to say the least. Tomorrow night, they return to the DW – and a plush, fast and dry new pitch – for the first of three home matches before the ‘Super 8s’ begin.

It promises to be a better game, with more quality and spice than you’d normally find in a match between teams in 3rd and 11th.

But Wigan should rightly feel confident, and if they get the win it will be more than a year since they lost their last home Super League match.