Anthony Gelling is hoping to be part of the first Warrington side to win a league championship since 1955 – but he also has his eyes set on another prize – The Steve Prescott Man of Steel Award.
Gelling, who joined Warrington from rivals Widnes Vikings following spells at New Zealand Warriors and Wigan, knows the main goal is to win the Grand Final, but he is determined to stick to his own pre-season tradition.
When asked if the main aim was the Grand Final, he said: “100% and Man of Steel. I’ve said it every year I’ve played and it’s no different this time. It would be awesome (to win the Grand Final), I think the party would go on for 65 years.”
The 29-year-old Cook Islands international believes the financial troubles that went on at Widnes in 2019 has made him appreciate the game more and he understands what it means to people.
He added: “Looking back, it was frustrating at the time, it was very stressful. It was very character building as well. You learn about people and yourself going through that kind of adversity, a lot of lessons to be taken away from it.
“It was just different. The club’s I’ve been at – Wigan and New Zealand Warriors – very well-funded and popular clubs. Going to Widnes at that time, you kind of saw the dark side of rugby league. That’s what it was like.
“My perspective has changed now, it made you realise what the game means to people. People who still support a club like that in the shadows and in their darkest hour, you see what it means to people and what this game can do.”
Gelling is expected to line up in the centres against former club Wigan in the opening round of the 2020 Betfred Super League season, something he is yet to get his head around.
“I’ve got no idea what it’s going to be like,” said Gelling. “I can’t picture it in my head. I’ve been asked this a couple of times, each time I close my eyes and try to imagine it. I can’t imagine being at the DW Stadium and running against Wigan.”
Gelling was dubbed the Man of the People by the Wigan fans during his time at the DW Stadium, something he still hopes he is despite joining a title rival. He also hopes he doesn’t feel the wrath of the crowd like Sam Tomkins and Josh Charnley have since leaving the club.
“I hope I still will be (The Man of the People). I kind of left on good terms, I still have a lot of friends there. I love the Wigan fans. Their reasons for leaving were a bit different (Sam Tomkins and Josh Charnley). I didn’t want to leave, my hand was forced a bit. I definitely left before I wanted to leave.”
Gelling admits he had a number of offers from other clubs – he even had a discussion with Wigan – but he chose Warrington and he wants to prove to everyone that he can still hack it as a Super League player.
He said: “I hope people think I have a point to prove. I hope they don’t just think he’s getting a game because he’s hanging around and there is no-one else.
“This is a very important chapter in my career so I want to make a real good case for myself and reflect the hard work that I’ve put in over a decade.
“I had other offers from Super League clubs, If you lay every Super League card out on the table, the Warrington one is probably the one you would pick. There was a discussion (about going back to Wigan), but nothing really more than that.
“They went through some hard times last year with off-field drama. It was kind of a different set-up there now, Shaun Wane has gone and a lot of players moved on. It was just a different vibe that I got, but I’m happy to be at Warrington.”
Some Warrington fans might not have forgiven Gelling for his interception try for Wigan at the Halliwell Jones Stadium back in 2016.
When asked if he thought they would forgive him if he scored against the Warriorsin round one, he said: “I don’t know. It would have to be the exact same scenario. It would have to be a 79th minute interception to win the game.”