Gildart fulfilling dad’s dreams at Tigers

Scott Bailey |

Oliver Gildart is yet to play an NRL game but the Wests Tigers recruit already has unfinished business to complete for his dad in England.

The son of a Wigan backrower, international centre Gildart spent his childhood hearing about his father’s great regret at never playing in Australia.

A centre-turned-second-rower, Ian Gildart had an offer to play first grade in the NSWRL around the start of the 1990s.

But family reasons kept him in the north of England, before a detached retina ended his career prematurely at age 28 and after 221 first-grade games.

So when Gildart Jnr started rising through the ranks of the Super League, he always had his eyes on fulfilling one ambition for his father.

“He’s always told me one of his biggest regrets is not coming out to play here, so it’s on me now,” 25-year-old Gildart told AAP. 

“I didn’t want to have that regret.

“He’s always in the big picture and knows what is happening contract-wise. 

“He knew I’d wanted to come here for a few years now. So when I finally got the contract signed (with Wests Tigers), I’m sure it was a very proud moment for him.”

A veteran of 144 games for Wigan himself, Gildart has never made any secrets about his desire to play down under.

He has long spoken to Wigan coach Adrian Lam about the move, working on areas of his game that needed to improve for the NRL.

Former NRL star Lam is the man who prepared George Williams for his move, the halfback helping Canberra to the 2019 preliminary final before things turned ugly last year.

“He told me week in week out, if I wanted to get to the NRL these were the things I needed to do,” Gildart said.

Quick and niggly, Gildart is aware of English backs not having the same success as forwards when coming to the NRL from the Super League in the past two decades.

But he is confident entering in the prime of his career and after four Tests for England and Great Britain, he can make it in Australia.

“I see it as a personal challenge,” Gildart said.

“It’s not so much a risk, but it’s probably nerve-wracking for the English lads to come here. 

“With what is said about the English backs not performing as well when they come here, it obviously adds pressure. 

“But I’m a real competitor, and have been since I was a young kid.

“So for me it’s just the challenge, and the regret my dad had not coming. 

“I have nothing attached to me at the moment that can keep me away from it. So why not? 

“I have the opportunity to so why not challenge myself against the best in the world and see if I can step up to the standard.”