He’s renowned for a laugh and a joke: but Anthony Gelling is deadly serious when asked about his history with Old Trafford in the aftermath of Wigan’s semi-final victory against Hull FC last weekend.
Since he joined Wigan at the start of 2012, Gelling has been involved in a Grand Final-winning squad: but that 2013 success saw Gelling watch on from the stands.
He made the team the following year as Wigan lost out to St Helens, but was again forced to watch from the sidelines last year due to injury as the Warriors once again lost at Old Trafford, this time to Leeds.
And ahead of Wigan’s fourth successive appearance at the Super League Grand Final, Gelling is in no mood to see the chance to lift the trophy slip through his fingers once again.
“The week leading up to it is not like any other. You try to take it as any other game but it’s a whole year of hard work put into 80 minutes,” he admits.
“I didn’t play last year, I had a problem with my ribs. I came back for a game and I wasn’t up to scratch, but I played the year before and losing the Grand Final was heartbreaking. I still enjoyed the whole occasion because it was one of my dreams. But the next box to tick is winning.
“In 2013 when we did win it, I was 18th man and it was frustrating, you really want your team to win but if you’re not playing it’s bittersweet. It’s so tough, especially when you think you deserve to be out there. We’re not happy with just going there, we want to win it and lift that trophy. Warrington, like Hull, are a good side but we’ve got to be confident we can beat them.”
Wigan have been forced to do it tough on numerous occasions this year, and last Friday appeared to be no different. At half-time they were cruising to Old Trafford, leading 14-0 at the interval. But a magnificent fightback from Hull saw Wigan fall behind at one stage, before eventually securing victory late on thanks to a try from none other than Gelling.
“We were stood under the posts and we said we’d been here before, in close games that we know how to get it done – and thankfully we did,” he says.
“It’s getting a habit winning late, but a win is a win. If it goes down to a close game where it’s in the balance with 10 minutes to go at Old Trafford, I’ll back us to get the win.
“I expected us to be up but that was a great start, to keep them to nil was incredible. We expected a comeback in the second half, Waney said they would come at us with their backs at the wall so be ready: and although we fell behind, we fought our way back.”
“I had cramp in both calves when I scored, I thought I was going to get caught – maybe he cramped up too! I was buzzing, you dream about doing it in training and think about it before the game and when it comes it’s incredible.”
And although Gelling admits reaching the Grand Final for the fourth year in a row is great, it is vital Wigan go one step further this year.
He says: “It’s a wonderful achievement but we’re not content yet. It’s Old Trafford for the fourth time but this year, we need a win.”