Why Gildart will not be at the World Cup

Oliver Gildart was Super League's Young Player of the Year
Oliver Gildart was Super League's Young Player of the Year

Oliver Gildart will not be playing at the World Cup.

The Wigan centre – Super League’s Young Player of the Year – was last week named in the Italy squad for the tournament.

Gildart had made it clear England was his priority but, if he was overlooked for Wayne Bennett’s squad, he wanted to represent the country of his granddad’s birth.

But after thinking long and hard about the decision, he has reluctantly decided to stay home to increase his chances of making strides in 2018.

“I gave it a lot of thought,” Gildart told the Wigan Observer.

“I really want to improve and I’m still only young.

“I think I need a full pre-season to try and get better for next year and try and push for the England squad.”

Playing for Italy would not have prevented him from representing England in the future.

But had he played in the World Cup, he would only have reported back for training with Wigan near Christmas.

Instead, the non-internationals will be back for pre-season in around three weeks – giving Gildart the best possible chance to make a bigger impact next season.

Many of his Wigan team-mates will be in action at the World Cup in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, which starts on October 27 and runs until December 2.

Sean O’Loughlin, George Williams and John Bateman are in the England panel – there were no places for Sam Tomkins, Joe Burgess or Liam Farrell.

Romain Navarette, who finished last season on loan at Catalans, is in the France panel, Micky McIlorum and Jack Higginson are with Ireland, Thomas Leuluai is in the New Zealand squad and Lewis Tierney is expected to get a Scotland call.

Inside this week’s Wigan Observer: Shaun Wane reveals the changes he plans for 2018