Oliver Gildart can’t wait for his return to action tonight – from an injury he feared may have ended his career.
The classy centre has been out for the last three months with a back injury caused by a Brett Ferres crusher tackle.
But is set to resume his campaign this evening, with a derby at Leigh in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
Asked whether he was concerned the injury was career-threatening, Gildart said: “Yeah, when I first did it.
“I heard the crunch, I couldn’t breathe, and I thought: ‘This is me done’.
“But I got my breath back, stood up and thought it couldn’t be that bad.
“At half-time, because it was so deep, the doctor couldn’t feel it, but when I tried to run it off the pain was terrible.
“I didn’t realise the after-effects, I woke up the day later and I thought: ‘This is me done’. I was struggling to walk and wondering how I was going to get back fit.
“Thankfully, the bone had just crushed – everything around it was okay – and it eased off with rest and rehab.
“It’s been frustrating, but I’ve got the green light now and hopefully I can kick on.”
Leeds forward Ferres, sinbinned at the time, later apologised and was suspended for six games.
Gildart holds no grudges but hopes the episode helps wipe out the ‘crusher tackle’.
“He apologised after, I want to forget about it and move on,” the 20-year-old said.
“He got the ban, hopefully he’s learned from it, and no-one gets put into a crusher again – maybe it can be an example for the rest of Super League.”
Gildart was making his first appearance back from a shoulder problem which had cut short his sparkling start to the season, in which he scored five tries from three games.
Wigan, still missing 10 front-line players through injury, are without a win in their last six Super League matches.
Leigh are bottom of the table, but Gildart said: “It’s their biggest game of the year and I think they’re a good side, with some dangerous players.
“Some of the toughest, most physical games I’ve played in have been against Leigh. They try and bully you, and our middles have to match their middles.
“Hopefully we can pick up now. This is our worst run in 11 years. I don’t want to be in a side which keeps getting beaten, and the lads don’t either.”
Gildart is expected to slot back into his familiar left-centre role, with Joe Burgess moving to the right centre – ahead of Liam Forsyth – and Liam Marshall and Tom Davies keeping their wing spots.