Warriors close to signing Wigan centre

Anthony Gelling in action for Wigan. Photo: Getty Images
Anthony Gelling in action for Wigan. Photo: Getty Images
The Warriors are close to securing the services of former Wigan centre Anthony Gelling after he was granted a release from the Super League club to return to New Zealand.

The New Zealand Herald understands the Auckland-born 27-year-old has trained with the Warriors over the last week and is in talks to sign a modest one-year deal for the upcoming NRL season.

Gelling was recently granted a release from the last two years of his contract with Wigan on compassionate grounds after he returned to New Zealand before Christmas to be with his girlfriend who was injured in a car accident.

In a recent post on his own blog, Gelling explained the reasons behind his departure from the UK: "The real reason for me leaving the Cherry and Whites was basically to be closer to family.

"My girlfriend and I had kept in touch via long distance during the 2017 campaign. Another year of facetime and text messaging seemed like a mountain to climb and I was willing to try.

"But when I received news that she was seriously injured in a car accident it quickly put things in perspective."

Warriors fans will remember the former Howick Hornets club player and Cook Islands international was a member of the Auckland Vulcans side that went down to the Canterbury Bulldogs in the 2011 NSW Cup grand final.

He joined Wigan the following season and scored 52 tries in 115 games that included Super League grand final and World Club challenge title wins.

Warriors insiders believe Gelling could be the rough diamond they have been looking for.

However, his pending signing is also in keeping with the club's recent recruitment strategy.

That has seen them target steady and reliable players, along with experienced campaigners such as Adam Blair and five-eighth Blake Green, rather than big name stars.

He earned cult status among Wigan fans due to his larger than life personality and off-beat antics.

That includes his mind-boggling charge-down of Corey Parker's attempted penalty goal in golden point extra time of the 2015 World Club Series loss to the Brisbane Broncos, while he also rode a BMX bike to a local derby clash with St Helens that same year.

His reputation as a likeable rogue was enhanced later that evening when he stopped by uninvited to a fan's house party, while his diploma in film helped him produce several humorous social media videos.

He gained further notoriety while accepting a Man of the Match award in 2016, when he told television viewers how a lengthy delay for a video referee's decision "pissed me off" and earned himself a nickname, saying: "I'm speaking for everybody here, I consider myself a man of the people."

Despite his reputation as a joker, Gelling earned respect through his impressive performances and his game has flourished since he was last seen on these shores.

"Anthony will be sorely missed not just at Wigan but in Super League too," said Wigan executive director Kris Radlinski.

"On the field he has worked tirelessly to become one of the best centres in the league and deservedly returns home with a grand final winner's ring on his finger. He leaves with our best wishes and will have many friends for life here at Wigan."

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