Talking RL: Micky and Gells have left us with many great memories

Micky McIlorum had two years remaining on his deal
Micky McIlorum had two years remaining on his deal
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Few fans would have been shocked by confirmation Micky McIlorum and Anthony Gelling have left Wigan.

But there was one surprise in the club’s press release – the apparent contradiction over the reason behind Micky’s exit.

Chairman Ian Lenagan says the hooker received attractive offers and they didn’t want to stand in his way.

But in the same press release, McIlorum suggested there was a nudge.

“After speaking with Ian (Lenagan) it was made clear my future was elsewhere,” he wrote.

Either way, the decision to release him with two years remaining on his deal has baffled many - not surprising, given the impact he has made.

A French journalist contacted me last week and asked for my thoughts on McIlorum (we both expected the Wigan hooker’s move to Catalans to be completed before Christmas).

The reporter asked me to pick out the best moments from McIlorum’s decade-long stay with Wigan.

Which was tough; because Micky is not Rangi Chase - he’s not a highlights-reel type of player.

Sure, there have been some nice passes, some smart darts, a few crafty tries and quite a lot of bone-rattling tackles.

But even they don’t do justice to the impact Micky has made.

Because what he has brought to the Wigan side more than anything else has been an influence, on those he is playing alongside - and, more importantly, on those he played against.

How do you quantify the fact opponents just aren’t as good when they play against Micky? You can’t.

But it was a huge asset for Wigan. He niggled opponents, he got under their skin. He was nasty, he was aggressive, and - best of all for the Wigan fans - he was one of their own. Born in Leeds but made in Wigan, as he says. And the supporters loved having him in their side.

And that was illustrated best last Good Friday, when Micky made his comeback after more than a year out with a nasty broken ankle.

When he jogged down the touchline, preparing to go onto the pitch, the deafening ovation showed just how much respect and appreciation the fans have for him.

He’s more than played his part in the club’s resurgence since 2010. I wish him all the best in France. And I pity the Wigan players who have to play against him this year!

As for Gells, he brought fun and humour to a game which has become increasingly sterile.

But I liked him for much more than his antics or raps or videos. I respected him for much more than being a walking one-liner.

His rise through the ranks was hugely-impressive. This, remember, was a bloke who was holding down a full-time construction job, in addition to playing part-time, when Shaun Wane made him his first signing at the end of 2011.

His story was one of patience and perseverance paying off spectacularly, as he slowly cemented a regular spot in the side.

There were still errors and brain explosions along the way but, to borrow and butcher Wane’s description, there were more diamonds than rocks. Fans loved his tries and his team-mates certainly appreciated his metre-eating carries.

And his views on the game were refreshing. The super-8s, referees, rule changes... the Man of the People would give his view.

Super League will be worse off without him.

Wigan will be worse off without them both.

They’ve both been a pleasure to deal with.

All the best, fellas. And thanks for the memories.