Connect with us

Rugby League News

Revealed: What Oliver Gildart told Hull KR just seven weeks before shock move to Leigh Leopards

The news was confirmed yesterday that ex Wigan Warriors centre Oliver Gildart will join Leigh Leopards for the remainder of the 2023 Super League season, something that had drawn confusion given that Gildart has signed for Leigh’s Challenge Cup Final opponents Hull KR for 2024.

Obviously there is nothing in that against any RFL registration rules but it still led to plenty of raised eyebrows and questions, the first one being ‘can he play at Wembley?’, which was quickly dismissed as he hadn’t registered for the Leopards before the cut-off date prior to the semi-finals.

That was one big hurdle removed but another was set up yesterday when Hull KR head coach Willie Peters told the press that he had no prior knowledge to the move when rumours broke on Friday, and hasn’t since heard from Gildart or his current club The Dolphins.

“No, they didn’t,” Peters responded when asked if any discussions had taken place with the Dolphins.

“I was only aware of it on game day (Friday 28th)  morning. It was the first I heard of it and that was it. So pretty much we hadn’t had any opportunity to sign Oli.”

He also confirmed he’d had no communication with Gildart since the rumours and stated that he was unsure if the deal was even done.

“I’m not sure whether it’s 100% finalised. As I say he’s not our player for this year. Is the deal done? I don’t even know if it’s finalised yet. Pretty much I knew that it was a possibility and that it was going to get done and that was it.”

Within an hour of Peters uttering those words the deal was in fact finalised with Leigh confirming that Gildart had joined for the remainder of the 2023 season, a swift move to replace the injured Ricky Leutele for the end of season run-in.

What is very interesting though is what Peters revealed in a press conference just seven weeks ago ahead of Rovers’ facing Salford Red Devils in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals.

At the time the Robins were having an injury crisis in their backs leading to the immediate loan move for Catalans Dragons youngster Tanguy Zenon and Peters was asked if either Gildart or Peta Hiku, another 2024 signing, would be wiling to move to Craven Park six months early.

“To be honest, we’re not looking down that track at this stage. Unless they reached out to us to go, ‘yeah, I want to come now’, and then we’d certainly look at that, of course.”

Peters went on to explain the ‘aspirations’ Gildart had down under, aspirations that have seemingly dwindled now given his shock move to Leigh.

“Peta Hiku is playing at the moment and Oliver Gildart is playing really well in the Queensland Cup and he’s pushing. He still has aspirations. He wants to finish off what he started there.

“Although he hasn’t played the amount of games he would have liked, he’s still playing at a decent level. But he’s still got to set high goals for himself around how many games he wants to play, which I admire.

“He’s there to finish a job and wants to finish that. So, at this stage, no. I mean, who knows what could happen down the track?”

When saying that throwaway comment of ‘who knows what could happen down the track?’, you can guarantee that Peters wasn’t expecting any likelihood of Gildart signing for a rival Super League side without consulting Rovers, just a week ahead of the team’s biggest game in almost a decade, with the cherry on top being that he’d joined Rovers’ Challenge Cup Final opponents.

Peters rounded off that topic of conversation seven weeks ago by reaffirming Gildart’s desire to play NRL before confirming the Robins would happily welcome him to their 2023 playing squad.

“Also the problem at the moment would be quota spot because Peta is a quota player. So Oliver is probably the one that we could go to.

“But as I say, at this stage, he’s still got some aspirations there to play NRL. So, that’s what he’s striving to do, but if he came to us and said, look, I’m ready to get on the plane, I’m not going to say no to that either.”

Whilst there’s certainly stuff going on behind the scenes at KR we likely won’t know the full story any time soon, or if ever, but with Leigh set to travel to Craven Park for a Super League game at the end of the month then there’s a chance we could see Gildart take the field against his 2024 employers.

It’s certainly a story to watch as the season heads to a climax, and potentially even one to keep an eye on during the off-season when Gildart is set to link up with Rovers for pre-season training.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Must See

More in Rugby League News