Farewell to Micky Mac and the Man of the People…
Not the greatest way to start 2018 but the departures of Michael McIlorum and Anthony Gelling was probably to be expected by most, given the number of rumours mounting in late December. However, losing two first-choice players from Wigan’s starting XIII is a blow – but what great players and characters they both have been for Wigan.Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
As I wrote before Christmas, (click here for Canberra blog piece) a move for Micky Mac was probably going to be a good one for all parties involved, however, at the time of writing this, it was very much based on the idea that he would be plying his trade in the NRL in 2018.
— Dragons Catalans 🏆 (@DragonsOfficiel) January 3, 2018
Once the dust settles, I think a lot of people will see that the move is still probably right for all but I can’t help but think there is a bitter taste left by the move for most Wigan fans for a few reasons. One, the way it has been handled seems very un-Wigan-like. Wigan, in the Lenagan era, have been the epitome of forward planning and this departure, on the face of it, seems to be very last minute and a very opportunist decision by Wigan. Perhaps, if a new player is brought in over the next month then perhaps the decision may have been promoted by that decisions, however, at the moment – it does still seem a little out of character for Wigan.Embed from Getty Images
I think the biggest issues about this deal are around timing and the manner it has been handled. A player, two days after his testimonial year ended has been granted a release from the final two years of his contract, to move to a Super League rival – doesn’t sit too well. It is also interesting looking at the manner in which the club and McIlorum reflect on the deal with Ian Lenagan saying:
“Several teams have put forward very favourable offers to Michael and we felt it right not to stand in his way”
Whereas, McIlorum’s departing statement includes:
“After speaking with Ian (Lenagan) it was made clear my future was elsewhere and with interest from a couple of clubs it was agreed now was the best time to part company”
I do still believe, as I put forward in the Canberra blog, that it is the right move, allowing Leuluai, Tomkins, Williams, Escare to fit into the side – along with a clear progression route that has now been created for Josh Ganson.Embed from Getty Images
McIlorum adds a tough, steely backbone to the Catalans side, a middle of McIlorum and Greg Bird is one that not too many clubs will be looking forward to facing – including Wigan. McIlorum is the ultimate competitor and was the Ultimate Warrior for Wigan, as he said – Born in Leeds, Made in Wigan – Thank you and good luck in France.
The at times, frustrating, maverick genius that is Anthony Gelling, departed Wigan before Christmas to be closer to his family in New Zealand; and with Wigan already having signed his replacement in the shape of Dan Sarginson, his departure was expected by most.Embed from Getty Images
The self-proclaimed Man of the People, will be missed by most for his off the field antics as much as his on the field ability. His form in 2016 will be remembered as his best in a Wigan shirt, a season in which he established himself as one of the best centres in Super League at the time, as well as winning the Grand Final. His partnership with Dom Manfredi that season before the injury to Manfredi at Castleford, was at times telepathic and is a partnership that we are now, unfortunately, unlikely to see again.
Gelling could be as frustrating as much as he could a genius, he could cost you a try as much as he could score one – he was probably a once in a generation player – not for his ability, but for his unpredictability!Embed from Getty Images
Everyone has their favourite Gelling moment, from his runaway intercept try and celebration against Warrington in 2016, to his penalty charge down against Brisbane to his hat-trick against St Helens. He is certainly a player that will long live in Wigan fans memories for a long time to come.
Gelling doesn’t have a new club lined up and he has showcased his media skills regularly on social media, so whatever it is he decides to do – I am sure he will be a success. Wigan fans will also have the G E L Z rap forever etched in their memory from the 2016 trip to Wembley!
.@AnthonyGelling got jokes 👀🤣
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) January 3, 2018
From the people, to the Man of the People – good luck and thank you for the memories, as he rides his BMX off into the sunset!