Oliver Gildart: GB shot feels unreal
Oliver Gildart says it feels “unreal” to be heading on a Great Britain tour.
The centre was one of three Wigan players – with Zak Hardaker and departing George Williams – confirmed in the 24-man squad for the reformed Lions tour.
Gildart, who starred for England last year, was weaned on GB matches and was thrilled when team manager Jamie Peacock called and told him he was in the mix to face Tonga, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
“I’m absolutely made up, I couldn’t believe it when JP called,” said Gildart.
“I had a little taste of it earlier this year when I did the photoshoot for the Great Britain shirt, obviously the squad hadn’t been picked then and I remember thinking: ‘I really hope I get to play in this’.
“It was my favourite kit as a kid, I remember going over to the Test in Huddersfield when Sam Burgess smashed FuiFui MoiMoi (in 2007)...I have so many early memories of watching Great Britain, and it’s unreal to have the chance to play in it.
“It seems different to being in the England squad, this somehow seems like the pinnacle.”
Hardaker was the eye-catching inclusion, having not been in the England elite training squad, but has been rewarded for his strong form for the Warriors will a place in Wayne Bennett’s 24-man squad.
Former Warrior John Bateman is also included but there is no place for Wigan-bound George Burgess.
James Graham (St Geoge Illawarra) has been appointed captain in the absence of Sean O’Loughlin, whose omission was revealed on Sunday.
Wigan-bound Salford halfback Jackson Hastings has also been picked – he is eligible through his ancestry – while Australian-born Lachlan Coote and Blake Austin are also included.
Coote has previously played for Scotland and is one of four players from St Helens included. In total, 17 of the squad played in the Super League in 2019, with seven from the NRL.
The 24-man Great Britain squad: J Graham (St George Illawarra, capt), B Austin (Warrington), J Bateman (Canberra), T Burgess (South Sydney), D Clark (Warrington), J Connor (Hull FC), L Coote (St Helens), O Gildart (Wigan), Z Hardaker (Wigan), J Hastings (Salford), R Hall (Sydney Roosters), C Hill (Warrington), J Hodgson (Canberra), J Hughes (Warrington), J Jones (Salford), J Lomax (St Helens), J McGillvary (Huddersfield), J Philbin (Warrington), L Thompson (St Helens), J Trueman (Castleford), A Walmsley (St Helens), E Whitehead (Canberra), G Widdop (St George Illawarra), G Williams (Wigan).