Pick out highlights of Wigan’s year, and it risks becoming the Anthony Gelling show.
His season may not have had a defining moment quite like 2015’s charge-down against Brisbane, but he lit up their title-winning campaign with some bright moments on and off the pitch.
Best try? Arguably Gelling’s intercept against Warrington, when a 12-man Wigan roared back to claim a stunning victory.
Best try celebration? Gelling again, either for ‘hushing’ the St Helens fans after his hat-trick in a 25-0 derby triumph – or falling on his back after the clincher against Hull FC in the Super League semi-final.
Best use of social media? The Kiwi’s hilarious rap video, poking fun at team-mate Ryan Sutton.
Best home improvement? This was the man who rescued an old hot-tub from the scrapheap at Orrell... and decided to install it behind his Springfield home!
He could also stake a claim for the best hair -–his Rambo-esque mop, after deciding not to cut it all season.
And, of course, arguably the best quote for his: “I’m speaking for everyone. I consider myself a Man of the People” declaration after Sky Sports had apologised for him swearing on air.
“That stuck around for a bit, didn’t it?” he smiled, nodding to the tweets and ‘Man of the People’ T-shirts. “I didn’t plan to say it. They (Sky) got me straight after the game, I’m still trying to catch my breath, I said some (swear) words I shouldn’t have said... it’s tricky, because you’re not prepared until you get a tap on the shoulder and a microphone shoved in your face!”
Gelling took his form to a new level last season.
There’s no finish line in sight. I want to get bigger and faster, and score some more tries
He has always had the ability to impress, but he found a thread of consistency and, at his best, was an imposing threat on Wigan’s right edge.
To borrow and butcher Shaun Wane’s quote about him, there were less rocks, more diamonds.
“Last year I had some good patches, but I still want to improve,” said the 26-year-old.
“There’s no finish line – I want to get bigger and faster, and score some more tries next year.” Gelling’s rise to Super League stardom is a great story.
He was playing part-time in New Zealand and working a full-time construction job when Wane saw raw footage of him in action, and took a punt.
The gamble certainly paid off, with Wane anointing him the best centre in the competition last year.
Gelling repaid the loyalty by signing a long-term deal with Wigan, taking him until the end of 2019 – which would match Pat Richards’ modern era eight-year record for an overseas player at the club.
He is hoping there are more finals and more trophies before then, after helping the Warriors to a 12-6 Grand Final triumph in October.
“The big goal was to finish on the high and we did that. The weeks after were a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s always nice to be underdogs, everyone loves an underdog story!
“You can only really tell when the season starts where everyone is at but, if we start like we did last year, we should be up there again fighting.”
A season-opener at Salford on February 11 is followed by the eagerly-awaited World Club Challenge battle with NRL champions Cronulla Sharks – their first home game of the year.
“It’s a good way to start the season at the DW, bring it on,” said Gelling.
“Last year we were a bit under-cooked going into the Brisbane (World Club Series) game, hopefully we’ll be ready this time. It’d be nice to win one. I think Super League owes them one. It’s well overdue.”
Gelling returned to New Zealand in the off-season – a break delayed, and extended, by an ankle operation – but is now back in Wigan, and he has brought a member of his family with him – his 17-year-old brother Connor.
“I’m playing tour guide, he’s just finished high school so it’s a nice break for him,” said Gelling. His brother also plays rugby league, though his current visa prevents him pursuing a contract with a professional club.
“He’s going to do some sessions with the Under-19s,” added Gelling. “He may have a run with St Pat’s or something.”