WIDNES LURE GELLING BACK TO SUPER LEAGUE

Anthony Gelling’s Auckland homecoming has lasted just one season, with Widnes Vikings announcing they have signed the rangy New Zealand Warriors centre for 2019.

Gelling later confirmed his return to the Old Dart via Twitter.

The Howick Hornets product and Cook Islands international became regarded as a personality player during his six-season stay at Wigan. He scored 52 tries in 115 games for Super League’s version of the Warriors from 2012-17.

A surprise pick-up for the NRL’s Warriors, who had already splashed out on Kiwi Test backs Peta Hiku and Gerard Beale, Gelling has provided valuable depth in 2018.

After a run of underwhelming first-grade bench cameos, the 27-year-old was sensational in his first start against St George Illawarra, scoring a barnstorming try and defending superbly on gun Dragons centre Euan Aitken.

But with Solomone Kata and Hiku the preferred centre pairing, and Beale returning from a long injury layoff, Gelling returned to InTrust Super Premiership duty after the Warriors’ heavy Anzac Day defeat to Melbourne.

The cult hero was recalled for last Friday’s showdown with the Sharks with the absence of first-choice wingers Ken Maumalo and David Fusitu’a forcing a reshuffle, again scoring a try in a solid display at right centre.

He had this to say to about the impending move:

“I’m delighted to be joining Widnes Vikings. Looking at the talent at the club, their players who have re-signed, and the young lads who are coming through, I believe that the Vikings have real potential for the seasons ahead,” Gelling told Widnes Vikings media.

“Before signing this deal, I spoke in length to (Widnes CEO) James Rule. He shared the club’s vision for the coming seasons and I’m very excited to have the opportunity to be part of this.

“Widnes Vikings have had a tough season this year, but I know that we can turn this around. I am looking forward to linking up with the boys next year in 2019 and to making a difference to the side.

“I know from experience that the Vikings have brilliant supporters and I can’t wait to get out in front of them next year. I’m grateful to everyone that continues to get behind the boys this year and look forward to wearing black and white next season.”

Vikings interim head coach Francis Cummins was even more enthusiastic about the signing coup.

“Anthony is a tremendous signing for the club. We’ve been working really hard to find a calibre of player who will enhance our team, and I believe that Anthony is that type of player. Anthony has been one of our top targets, as we have planned for next season, and James Rule has been in regular conversation with him over the past couple of months to help make this deal happen,” Cummins said.

“Anthony has an ‘X Factor’ about him, with the ability to produce something out of nothing in a way that few others in the modern game can replicate. Players of his quality are few and far between, and we are excited that he will be representing our club.”

Gelling could still have a key role to play in the finals-bound Warriors’ 2018 campaign on the field, but it’s arguably his A1 social media game that fans will miss most when he heads back to England.

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