Oliver Gildart is in line to make his Leigh Leopards debut this weekend, with coach Adrian Lam hailing the signing a natural fit for both parties.
Earlier this week, England international Gildart made a return to Super League after penning a contract with the Leopards for the rest of the 2023 season.
The 26-year-old centre, who will wear the number 31 shirt for Leigh, has been named in Lam’s squad to face Leeds Rhinos on Sunday.
Explaining how the signing came around, Lam said: “The way that it started, obviously with Ricky Leutele having that injury from a couple of weeks ago and since having to go and have his spine operated on certainly puts him out for the year and puts us under a bit of pressure there so with us having a small squad, we put the feelers out there for a centre who could play on that left hand side.
“Obviously I had a relationship with Oli in the past at Wigan so it was just a quick call and connection there and once we made that call he was eager to go.
“Fortunately for us, he’s a world class centre and I think he’ll do a great job here.
“He’s very close with a few of the players in the team – Josh Charnley who he’s played with and won Grand Finals with, so it’s a really good fit for us especially this late on in the season.
“He was prepared to wait out the year there and play his part for the Dolphins. Obviously he hasn’t played any games for the Dolphins this year so he has been frustrated with that.
“His partner has stayed back there and is packing up but that was all part of the communications and all of a sudden it worked for us.
“I’m very grateful for it, I know he’s heading elsewhere for next year so it’s a short-term contract but his family only live 10 minutes down the road so its a natural fit for him and for us.”
Leigh Leopards coach explains why new recruit Oliver Gildart won’t play in Challenge Cup final
Gildart came through the ranks at Wigan, scoring 65 tries in 143 appearances for his hometown club before making the move over to the NRL in 2022 with Wests Tigers.
The two-time Super League Grand Final winner has spent this season with the Dolphins in the NRL and has agreed a three-year deal with Hull KR from next season.
Gildart won’t be able to play for Leigh in next week’s Challenge Cup final against Hull KR, with Lam explaining why.
“I think it was the 14th July or around that date that he needed to be registered by,” Lam said.
“He’s not involved with that at all and that’s why he won’t play next week but we’ll try to find him some sort of role this week if he recovers well enough after the long haul travel and the week after we’ll probably see him in a fixed position there moving forward.”
The third-placed Leopards travel to Headingley to face Leeds on Sunday, 3pm kick-off.