Wigan Warriors star Gildart's eyes on St Helens after recovering from injury
Oliver Gildart has revealed he played most of a game with a fractured thumb.
The centre suffered the injury early into their 20-12 defeat at Huddersfield in mid-July.
He battled through the rest of the game, grimacing when he had to catch passes and doing his best to stop the traffic sent his way.
“It just ballooned,” he recalled. “It was terrible.
“I had Jermaine McGillvary and Leroy Cudjoe on my side – I probably couldn’t have picked two harder opponents to try and tackle with one shoulder!
“I had to try and catch the ball with my left hand.
“It was only when I went for an X-ray the next day that they said there was a crack through the middle.”
Gildart has not played since but is on course to make his return to action in Friday’s crunch derby at St Helens.
Saints, eight points clear of second-placed Wigan, can clinch the league leaders’ shield with victory in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
Justin Holbrook’s outfit have already beaten the Warriors twice this year, most recently a 14-6 triumph at the DW Stadium last month.
“It’s rubbish, to be honest,” said Gildart. “I hate losing to Saints no matter when it is, but by now we’ve normally had one each or won two of three.
“They’re obviously a very dangerous side – they had a bit of a blip in the Cup semi – but they’re a quality team and we know we’ll have to play well to beat them.
“For them to win all three wouldn’t be great, but we’ve got this week to make sure we’re well prepared and hopefully we’ll get the win.
“Who knows? Maybe we’ll get them in the Grand Final, too.”
For that to happen, both would need to win their post-season semi-finals and if Wigan can finish the season second, they – like Saints – will be rewarded with a match at home.
“We’d have liked to have been challenging for the league leaders but it’s all about the back end of the year and making sure that, first you’re in the semis, and then getting a home spot – and we’ve got that right now,” continued Gildart.
“I know we had a dodgy spell in the middle of the season but we’re second in the ladder, we’re doing well.”
Shaun Wane hinted Gildart may play on the wing, in place of injured Liam Marshall, after fit-again Dom Manfredi was left out of the 19-man squad - he is set to return next Thursday at home to Wakefield.
Chris Hankinson (eye), Taulima Tautai (suspension), Liam Farrell (shoulder) and long-term absentee Joe Burgess (knee) also miss out.
Ryan Morgan and Luke Thompson return to the Saints squad. Chris Kendall is referee.
Wigan’s 19-man squad: John Bateman, Tony Clubb, Tom Davies, Morgan Escare, Ben Flower, Oliver Gildart, Joe Greenwood, Gabe Hamlin, Willie Isa, Samy Kibula, Tommy Leuluai, Romain Navarrete, Sean O’Loughlin, Oliver Partington, Sam Powell, Dan Sarginson, Ryan Sutton, Sam Tomkins, George Williams.
St Helens’ 19-man squad: Jonny Lomax, Tommy Makinson, Ryan Morgan, Mark Percival, Theo Fages, James Roby, Kyle Amor, Zeb Taia, Jon Wilkin, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Luke Douglas, Morgan Knowles, Luke Thompson, Danny Richardson, Regan Grace, Matty Lees, Jack Ashworth, Ben Barba, Matty Costello.