Tom Gilmore has spoken of his pride at following in the footsteps of many famous Widnes-born scrum halves as he takes the number seven shirt for the 2017 season.
A number of great players, such as Ray Owen, Reggie Bowden and David Hulme have worn the number seven shirt for Widnes in previous years, and Gilmore is the latest name to take that accolade.
Whilst there may be a lot of expectation placed on Gilmore playing in a position that is steeped in history, he said it is an achievement that he is immensely proud of.
“Getting that shirt is something that I have always wanted to do.
“Since I was a little kid, all I’ve ever wanted to be was Widnes Vikings’ scrum half and it’s an honour that I get the chance to do that.
“I’m still buzzing to be honest, everyone in my family is delighted about it and it’s a dream come true in many ways for me.”
When returning from spells elsewhere and being placed back into the first-team, the halfback has sat patiently behind Kevin Brown and Joe Mellor whilst waiting for the chance to play for his hometown club, and he hopes he can take this chance offered to him with both hands.
“Personally, it has been frustrating for me at times, and I don’t think people realise how long I have been in the background of the first team now,” he said.
“I’ve been around the team for four or five years but I’ve had a couple of serious injuries along the way which hasn’t helped things at all, so hopefully they’re behind me.
“But I’ve never really thought of going anywhere else and moving on. I’m a Widnes lad and I knew that this was the place where I wanted to play my rugby.
“I knew that I would get my chance eventually and I thought if I moved on, I would regret it as I felt opportunities would come along.
“Hopefully next year will prove that and I can get a long run in the team alongside Joey.“
2017 will see a new half-back partnership, with Gilmore partnering up with Joe Mellor, who has taken up the vacated number six shirt.
Gilmore the relationship between the pair is something that people can look forward to.
“I think me and Joey (Mellor) will work well, and I hope we can bring a lot of excitement to the town,” he said.
“Mine and Joe’s game can work really well off each other, in terms of Joe being a bit more of a runner whilst I like to think of myself as an organiser. Hopefully, with that combination we can get us where we want to be next year.
“I think we’ve got a massive opportunity next year, and it’s up to us to step up and show what we’re about.
“With Kevin now gone, and the way we played when he was here, it means next year everyone will have to take responsibility and up their game for next year.
“If it works and it all comes together, it can be a very exciting partnership for a few years to come and I can’t see any reason why that can’t happen.”
Gilmore and his teammates have been busy in pre-season trying to ensure that they come close to replicating the Ccub’s best ever Super League finish of 7th in 2016, with a trip to the Lake District for a training camp with WAKTU emphasising the hard work being shown by the players.
Whilst pre-season is something that some players dread when it comes around, for Gilmore it is a chance to get himself prepared and ready for the upcoming season in a starting position.
“When I was younger I was one of those that absolutely dreaded it, but as I’ve got older I can see why we do it and I’ve come round to it now,” he said.
“We know we have to work hard to get close to where we finished last year, and even though winter isn’t the best time of the year for a rugby player, I’d rather be doing that than any other job to be honest.
“I’m trying to get bigger and stronger and get myself ready for next year, just like the rest of the lads, and hopefully we can see the benefits of that when the season starts.”