Four knee surgeries, a shoulder operation and a serious ankle injury – all by the age of 24 for Tom Gilmore

“I think it’s been a long time coming.”

That’s Tom Gilmore’s honest assessment as he prepares to make his 50th career appearance on Sunday.

It’s a somewhat peculiar comment on first glance. Gilmore is still only 24 and only recently established himself in the Widnes side.

But then, when you delve a little deeper into his career thus far, you can understand why he thinks that way.

“I’ve had four operations on my knee and one on my shoulder.”

Not bad going for a season prop forward, yet alone a halfback yet to surpass half a century of games.

Ultimately, it’s been those injuries that have held him back so far.

“I’ve had an ACL reconstruction, some cartilage operations and so on. I had syndesmosis around my ankle too actually, that was another big one.

“They’ve knocked me back. I’ve had a lot of bad luck but you create your own luck I suppose. It’s given me time though, me and Olly (Ashall-Bott) have been going to pilates every Wednesday!”

But Gilmore is quick to get back onto serious matters.

“I’ve not fulfilled my potential. People who have trained with me know what I’m about but I’ve not been able to show that over a long period of time. You need to stay fit to do that and unfortunately, that’s not been the case.”

Both he and Widnes have a chance to prove themselves on Sunday against the defending Super League champions, a game Gilmore believes his side can win.

“We’ve got potential here and we want to show that against Leeds. They’re an exciting team and they’re powerful. If we play the way we’ve been playing we have a very good chance.

“We just need to tweak a few things with the ball but we’re doing OK, we’ve a good team with some real promising youngsters who can take us a long way.”