As the date approaches when clubs are able to approach those who will be coming off contract at the end of the season, plenty of Super League clubs are signing up their top talent; Castleford have seen a glut of their 2017 stars sign improved contracts in recent weeks and Leeds Rhinos have tied captain Kallum Watkins down to a long term deal. Wigan Warriors have seen young wingers Liam Marshall and Tom Davies sign on for multiple years as well as forwards Willie Isa and Romain Navarrete.
One more player the 2016 Super League champions will be wanting to get signed up is their 21 year old centre Oliver Gildart who, at the end of the season, will be out of contract. As of Tuesday (1st May), the 2017 Super League Young Player of the Year will be able to speak to other clubs regarding a possible move and the prospect of an NRL future is a very real one. Sydney based club Wests Tigers have publically stated their interest in the England Knights squad member and Gildart himself hasn’t ruled out a move to Australia, explaining that “the NRL is something that definitely interests me. It’s a dream of mine to test myself out there.”
Perhaps an even bolder declaration of interest in the impressive centre has been that from the Warriors’ bitter rivals St Helens. That interest is something which is unlikely to result in a move as it is believed that Gildart ideally wouldn’t want to move to another Super League team – let alone the Saints. Nevertheless, while the centre isn’t in a rush to sort his future out, he hasn’t ruled out either club as a potential destination for next season, explaining that “my agent has let me know both are keen. I’ve got to go through talks with Wigan and see what the best option is.” Right now, he would be taking a big risk leaving the Warriors, though, given their history, ability and potential. The likes of Tom Davies, Liam Marshall, Ryan Sutton and Gildart are all 22 or under while Joe Burgess, Sam Powell and John Bateman are all 25 at most and, with their youth system constantly churning out Super League quality, he is at a team which will no doubt be competing for silverware on a regular basis.
If, however, he was to move to the NRL, while it would be hugely beneficial for the player to test himself in that environment while also probably benefiting him financially, it would be a great shame to see the England youngster leave Super League with his best years ahead of him.