Former Wigan Warriors star Oliver Gildart recenly confirmed he turned down a return to Super League in 2022.
It was reported at multiple junctures that Gildart was headed back to Super League. The most surprising was a reported short term move to Leeds Rhinos until that fell through and led to a loan move to Sydney Roosters.
Then at the end of the season, Leeds, Wigan, Warrington Wolves and others were linked with a move for him ahead of the 2023 Super League season.
Now, Gildart has confirmed that at least one of these reported pursuits did in fact happen as he revealed that he turned down a return to Super League in order to keep testing himself.
“I spent seven or eight seasons at Wigan and I’ve had three NRL clubs here in the space of a year-and-a-half but I came to Australia to challenge myself,” he said according to Zero Tackle.
“I could have gone back to Super League (last year) but I want to give it a real good crack.”
Of course, his former England coach Wayne Bennett had something to do with this decision masterminding his move to the NRL’s newest club the Dolphins where Gildart will no doubt feel like he has something to prove which could make him more dangerous than ever.
Gildart is a two-time Super League Champion winning Grand Finals in 2016 and 2018 with Wigan Warriors. He is one of the younger players to play in a Grand Final doing so in 2015 in one of his two Grand Final defeats the other coming against St Helens in 2020.
A real star of Super League, it was exciting to see him have a crack at the NRL in 2022 but he fell out of favour at Wests Tigers after just eight appearances and has been looking elsewhere since.
All of this, alongside the fact he was left out of England’s World Cup squad, has left Gildart with something to prove no doubt which will only be furthered by the deal he has signed with the Dolphins.
Now Gildart has said this has been “the toughest period” in his career.
“I played eight games at the Tigers but it didn’t work out the way we planned it,” Gildart told the AAP.
“That was the toughest period in my career, mentally more than anything.
“I was on the other side of the world with no family, no friends and no support really. That was pretty hard.
“I kept my head down and tried to be the best player I could … went to the Roosters and learned a lot.”
Set to feature for the Dolphins, according to NRL.com, the star England centre won’t be the Dolphins’ first choice centre.
They instead believe that Euan Aitken and Tesi Niu will start at centre ahead of Gildart next season meaning Gildart has something to prove.
Aitken started his career making over 100 appearances at St George Illawarra Dragons prior to playing 35 games at New Zealand Warriors and is in the prime of his career at 27.
Meanwhile the much younger Tesi Niu arrives and could also play at fullback as well.
— NRL (@NRL) January 28, 2023