Wigan Warriors' Oliver Gildart driven by Grand Final heartache
The centre was in the Warriors side beaten in dramatic circumstances in last November’s title-decider, as Jack Welsby pounced for the match-winner in the final second.
Adrian Lam’s side are not lacking for incentives as they prepare for tonight’s televised blockbuster.
Derbies are always big occasions but a run of four straight defeats has put Wigan’s form under sharper focus.
And Gildart admits the pain of their last encounter is providing extra motivation.
“It’s the first since the Grand Final and that’s still hurting,” said the 24-year-old. “100 per cent, I know personally it’s a driving factor for me.
“It’s a perfect game, playing St Helens
“It doesn’t take much to get up for this game, I’d love to get the win and get this club where we need to be. We can’t wait to go out, there, prove some people wrong and get our season back on track.
“This is what it’s about, this is the pinnacle in Super League, they don’t come around that often.”
Gildart has been weaned on the derby. His dad, Ian, played for Wigan, he went to an Ashton school – with future-Saints prop Luke Thompson – and played in many derbies at junior level before cracking into the Warriors side.
And with the England international heading to the NRL at the end of this year, he is determined to savour this year’s encounters.
“It’s definitely the biggest game you can play in a Wigan shirt,” he said.
“It’s one of the biggest things I’ll miss, there’s nothing like it in the world. I’ll make the most of the last couple and I’d love to get a couple of wins against Saints before I leave.”
While Saints are well-rested – having had their midweek game forfeited by opponents Castleford – Wigan are licking the wounds of their 40-14 defeat to Warrington on Wednesday night.
Gildart admits their recent performances haven’t been good enough but says it’s too early for alarm bells to ring.
“I’ve been in this situation before, a couple of losses and people write you off, but we know the talent in this room,” he said.
“We’re doing it tough, we’re not where we want to be, but there’s no better game to get up for.
“We were way off the mark in the Warrington game. If we can cut those silly areas out of the game we give ourselves a good chance. Nobody likes losing, you’re brought here to win and compete, it’s not working for us at the minute.
“We’d like to be winning, we’d like to be playing good rugby, but this is a really good game to turn it around.
We only played on Wednesday, against Warrington – one of the most physical teams in the competition – so it’s not ideal, but we’re here to do a job and the starting side will be fit and ready.”