VIDEO: Oliver Gildart on his England call-up and Saturday's Old Trafford Grand Final

Oliver Gildart was half-expecting a PPI rep on the end of the line when he answered his phone - but was instead called into the England squad!

Tuesday, 9th October 2018, 3:41 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th October 2018, 4:53 pm
Wigan Warriors centre Oliver Gildart

The Wigan centre has been drafted into Wayne Bennett's panel for the autumn Tests against New Zealand.

"Jamie Peacock (team manager) called me, I'd just finished a gym session when my phone went," said Gildart.

"I didn't have his number stored and I thought it was a sales call or something.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Wigan Warriors centre Oliver Gildart

"Honestly, I almost didn't answer it because I'd had a couple of those calls the night before.

"But I did and I just heard, 'It's Jamie Peacock. Just letting you know you're not going on the Knights tour, you've been called up into the England squad'.

"I ran down the corridor, I was so excited!

"I'm still not over it."

Gildart had been expected to go on the England Knights tour of Papua New Guinea, via Australia.

"I'd just had all my injections, I was slowly packing, and now this has happened. It's madness," he said, revealing his mum was in tears when he broke the news.

The 22-year-old, who will play for his club in Saturday's Super League Grand Final against Warrington, will help plug the gap caused by the withdrawal of Sam Burgess, who is due to undergo shoulder and wrist surgery.

"Don't worry I won't be doing a job at loose forward," he smiled. "Maybe it's to free John Bateman up (to play in the forwards, having previously played centre), I don't know.

"Hopefully I can go there and show what I can do and be good on and off the field and try and get a game, but if I don't then it'd be a great experience for me."

Gildart is one of six uncapped players in Bennett's squad, which now stands at 23 following the withdrawal of Castleford scrum-half Luke Gale with a knee injury that requires surgery.

England play France at Leigh next Wednesday and, with nine of Bennett's squad playing in Saturday's title decider at Old Trafford, the coach has been left with just 14 players for that game.

England say they will announce a replacement for Gale early next week.

Gildart's Wigan team-mates Bateman, Sean O'Loughlin, Sam Tomkins and Joe Greenwood are in the England squad. Tom Davies and Sam Powell are with the Knights.

Gildart will get a chance to impress England coach Bennett when Wigan face Warrington in Saturday's showcase title decider.

It will be the third Grand Final for the academy-product, who has also played at Wembley and won a World Club Challenge - not bad for a player who has only recently 22.

"I can't wait," he said. "It's a special week. I've been lucky, I played in a final in my first year and then my second year we won it.

"But we missed out on the Grand Final last season and it's made me appreciate it more.

"In a big game like this, you strip it right back, it's about doing the basics right and nailing those."