In his final blog of the year, Oliver Gildart reacts to his England call up, praises Shaun Wane and the fans and looks ahead to Saturday’s Grand Final.
Hello everyone, it’s Grand Final week!
I’m going to start with our 14-0 semi-final win against Castleford last Friday. I thought it was an outstanding effort. To play in a game like a semi-final and keep Castleford to nil was a massive effort.
On Sunday, the Wigan Women beat St. Helens to reach the Super League Grand Final where they’ll play Leeds at the Manchester Regional Arena on Saturday. It’s another great effort from the team and they’ve been very good all year, considering this is the first. The Under-19s reached their final and won it and the Women have got to theirs and we have too so hopefully they can get the job done and good luck to them. I wish them all the best! To see how far the Women’s game has come is only going to benefit them and hopefully we can get a lot more girls playing rugby next year too.
On Monday I was called up to the England Squad to replace the injured Sam Burgess…it’s a dream come true. It’s unbelievable! I’m lost for words and it’s not really sunk in. I can’t believe it as it’s something I’ve worked so hard for all my life. You want to be at the pinnacle of your career and get your chance to play for England and I’ve got that experience now and hopefully I can learn a lot from Wane Bennett and the other players and I might be lucky enough to get a game. I’m really looking forward to getting in camp and meeting a few of the lads and hopefully leave my mark on the team. It’s been a roller-coaster few years and it all seems to be happening so fast but I wouldn’t change it any other way and I’m just over the moon to be selected.
The Man of Steel Awards took place on Monday night and Waney won the Super League Coach of the Year. He’s been brilliant, not just this year but the last few years and I can’t believe it was his first one! I’m made up for him and he’s deserved to bow out with that award but I’m sure he wants to win this game more than anything this weekend and it would just be the dream finish for him to win it. Waney has been massive for me. He gave me my debut three years ago and he’s always backed me and kept me in. I’ll be forever grateful for what he’s done for me and it’s my turn to repay him now with a good performance this weekend.
It’s here…the Grand Final! It’s absolutely flew by this year and it’s mad to think that we’ve got one game left. At the same time, I can’t wait to get out there. It’s the best feeling of your life and I’ve been lucky enough to experience it twice, winning one and losing one. I know how both sides of it feels and there’s only one way to come out of Old Trafford and that’s with a ring on your finger. The preparation has started and it’s been very intense. Grand Final week has a different feel about it as everyone is on edge and a bit nervous but you can feel it in training that everybody is on and they know the job they have got in front of them.
It was crazy to have football legends Steven Gerrard and Peter Schmeichel at training on Tuesday! As a United fan I was made up to see Schmeichel but at the same time Gerrard is an absolute legend and he was the man growing up for me so it was a bit surreal. They spoke to us for about 15 minutes after training and gave us a few of their life experiences and it was great to listen to them!
Us and Warrington know each other inside out after five meetings already this year. They’re a very physical side and are big all across the park. They’re pretty dominant through the middle so I think the game will be won and lost through our middle so hopefully we can match them and get another win. It would be a dream ending for Waney, Sam (Tomkins), Batty and Sutty (Ryan Sutton). They have all left a massive mark and have done a lot for the Club. They’re all going to be big losses but all the boys are dead set on getting them another ring. It’s going to be emotional so you’ve got that extra bit of motivation. I remember when Leeds beat us in 2015, they had Jamie Peacock, Kevin Sinfield and Kylie Leuluai leaving and they managed to get the dream ending so I’m hoping it will be similar for us.
Finally, a message to you the fans – you’ve got one more game to support us and I know you’ll be there in numbers and hopefully we can repay the favour for your great efforts throughout the year and all the cold nights travelling to Yorkshire! Hopefully, we will make it all worth it and we’ll see you all at Old Trafford on Saturday!
This is my last blog for the year. I would just like to say a massive thank you for all the support you have given me and for the blog too. Let’s get this trophy on Saturday!