16th January 2019, 12:00 | Wigan

The Players' Record: Oliver Gildart

The Players' Record: Oliver Gildart

Written by Oliver Gildart

It’s mad, I suppose everyone has their own story and I’m kind of starting mine now.

It’s a pretty cool story to tell, coming from that injury, being told you might never play again, to winning another Grand Final and making your debut for England, it’s been a rollercoaster story so far… 

My Rugby League career started off with a bang, my first game was the rivalry between St Pats and Rose Bridge. 

I’d been playing football, so I’d never really been involved in a contact sport. I guess it was a welcome to Rugby League…

The first tackle, bang! I broke my nose, I’ll be honest I had a few tears with my Mum and Dad on the touchline. 

I must’ve been tough, I ended up going back on and loving it, that’s my first memory of Rugby League, after that, I just started to fall in love with the game. 

It wasn’t my Dad that pushed me to play Rugby League though, you may think that, but I was just watching my younger brother train at St Pats and wanted to join in a few sessions. 

My Dad never really pushed me towards Rugby in all honesty, my brother fancied it, and I just followed him. 

Soon, I realised I was alright at Rugby, my Dad then started to coach me, he came to St Pats and helped out on the coaching team but as soon as I signed for Wigan, he took a step-back. 

Let me take you back to Friday 31stMarch 2017, to some it may not be significant date, but for me, my career was nearly over before it’d even started. 

Picture the Emerald Headingley Stadium, Friday night under the lights, a near-perfect setting for the game. 

Kallum Watkins is making his 200thcareer appearance for Leeds Rhinos, there’s over 17,000 fans in the stadium, it’s my first game back from a knee injury, and I’m ready for the big game. 

We ended up losing the game – and I ended up with three fractured vertebrae. 

According to the specialist, if it was any higher up, I’d have been paralysed – I got lucky. 

And when I went for a scan the two women who were doing the x-ray said, “What’ve you done love, have you been in a car crash?” 

They’d never seen it like that before, only in car crashes. 

Looking back on it now, it’s a good story to tell now I’m back fit, it could’ve been awful, it could’ve been far worse. 

It was touch and go on whether I could ever play again, for me, I’d just been introduced to Super League, and let me tell you, I was loving it! 

All of sudden, they could’ve ended my career. 

It’s something I’m proud of and it was a lot of hard-work to get back to where I was, looking back, it’s all good memories now. 

2016 Super League Grand Final winner and 2017 World Club Challenge winner. It’s mad to think that could’ve been it. 

2018 Super League Grand Final winner  we were celebrating that one for a few days after the Final. 

It was a bittersweet final, we had a lot of lads that were leaving that I was close with; John Bateman, Sam Tomkins, Ryan Sutton and then obviously for the club as well, Shaun Wane. 

It was my last chance to celebrate it with them because I’m probably never going to win a Grand Final with them again.

From winning the Grand Final at Old Trafford to making my debut for England at the KCom Stadium, it all just happened so quick and I didn’t have time to think about it. 

It was a special moment, I’ve dreamt of that moment a million times.

We’d be training all week and then Wayne told me I was making my debut, the next thing I know I was facing the haka and then you know what happened next. 

Anyway, 2018 was great. 2019 we have to defend our title. Wigan have never gone back-to-back in Super League. 

That’s what we’re working for this year, we’ve got a new squad and have lost a few key players. 

Zak’s come in and he’s been unbelievable so far. He’s been what he’s been through. 

I’m looking forward to playing with him and I speak on behalf of the team when I say that as well. 

That’s a part of my story so far, thanks for reading it and I’ll be back next month for another edition.

Thanks, Gilly.