Wigan’s Oliver Gildart is hoping to follow in his dad’s footsteps when the fierce sporting rivalry between England and Australia reignites in Sunday’s World Club Challenge.
Gildart’s father, Ian, was an interchange in Wigan’s Club Challenge wins of 1987 and 1991, to which the team hope to add a record fifth in Sunday’s showpiece.
Wigan host Sydney Roosters at the DW Stadium with tension mounting in the lead-up to the historic showdown.
And Hindley native Oliver, 22, who was a try-scorer in the 22-6 win over Cronulla Sharks in 2017, is in no mood to slip behind his old man as he seeks a second Challenge crown.
“There aren’t many families where the dad and lad have both won it, but I can’t get away with falling behind my dad when it comes to medals!” said Gildart.
“It’s a special competition. It means a lot to our family and, as a local lad, the town as a whole.
“It would mean a lot on a personal level to add another medal to the cabinet. As a team, we know what we need to do to win.
“The memories of the win two years ago will stay with me for the rest of my life. I don’t think I understood how much the Challenge meant to the fans before winning it.
“It’s a unique thing in sport and the atmosphere on Sunday is going to be unbelievable.”
Warriors come into the one-off fixture with confidence after an assured 34-16 victory over Leeds Rhinos on Friday night.
In World Club Challenges of yore, NRL outfits are rarely outsized and Trent Robinson’s Sydney side are expected to bring a formidable pack to the DW.
Adrian Lam’s Warriors showed their intent to stick to a free-flowing philosophy in the Rhinos victory, playing from everywhere in slippery conditions.
Gildart envisages the weather playing a key role in the nature of the contest – but don’t expect Wigan to die wondering with ball in hand.
“It’ll be a tough battle – they’ll bring a big pack and it’ll be a battle between the forwards,” said the centre.
“A lot of it will depend on the weather.
“On Friday we showed we’ll throw the ball around whatever the conditions. Adrian is telling us to play smart this season but to back ourselves to take anyone on, wherever we are.
“The Super League is rapidly improving and we’ll hope to do the English game justice on Sunday.”
Wigan Warriors take on the Sydney Roosters in the Betfred World Club Challenge as the world’s two best rugby league sides go head-to-head at the DW Stadium on Sunday February 17th, kick-off 7pm. Secure your seat today by calling the DW Stadium ticket office on 01942 311111 or visiting https://wiganwarriors.com/tickets
By Tom Harle