A YEAR on the sidelines has convinced former Great Britain centre/back-rower Lee Gilmour he isn’t yet ready to hang up his boots.
Gilmour is set to make his debut for Wakefield Trinity Wildcats – on loan from Castleford Tigers – in Sunday’s relegation four-pointer away to Bradford Bulls.
It will mark the end of a 12-month injury nightmare and the start of another battle, to prove the 36-year-old can still perform at the highest level.
“My (Castleford) contract is up at the end of this year, so it is pretty important I get back playing,” Gilmour said. “I don’t want to retire. This year out has probably stoked a bit of a fire.
“Having been away from the game so long I think you realise how much you miss it. You are a long time retired, I have just had a year not playing, so the thought of not playing for the rest of my life is a long way from my thoughts at the minute.
“I want to put myself in the shop window to prove I can still play at this level. To even think about earning a contract on the back of not having played for a year is ridiculous. I have got to go out there and prove to Castleford or any other team – and myself – that I can still play at this level.”
With Castleford in red-hot form, Gilmour’s chances of forcing his way straight back in there were remote so a move to Wakefield was the best option for all concerned.
“I haven’t played Super League since May, 2013, so I am just really excited to play rugby again and get back into it,” he said. “Wakefield are short of players and things are going very well at Castleford at the moment, so it is an opportunity for me to get up to speed.
“Hopefully it will do Wakefield a favour and work out well for me. I just want to get some game time and get up to the level of Super League, that’s the aim. What happens after 28 days, we will have to wait and see.”
Gilmour played in Daryl Powell’s first game as Tigers coach, away to Catalan Dragons last May, but was then sidelined for the rest of the season due to nerve damage in a shoulder.
He came back in a pre-season game, but picked up a knee injury. An infection set in following surgery and he has not played since, though he has been back in full training for the last three weeks. “It was getting frustrating,” he admitted.
“It is time for me to play a game. This move gives me an opportunity to go out and play, which is all any player wants to do. It is all right training, but we are paid to go out there and play on the pitch, rather than train in the gym.”
Wakefield have no game next weekend, when Super League takes a break due to the Challenge Cup quarter-finals and Gilmour sees that as an added bonus.
He said: “To go from a game into a 12-day turnaround and then a nine-day turnaround, it will mean any soreness will have chance to get sorted and any swelling or any reaction the knee may have can settle down and I’ll still be able to play in the following game.”
Gilmour made 75 Super League appearances for Bradford from 2001-2003 and contributed when fans were asked to raise £500,000 to keep the club afloat two years ago, but he insisted sentiment will go out of the window on Sunday.
“I certainly don’t want to see Bradford go down,” Gilmour admitted.
“But at the same time it is looking like Bradford or the next two or three teams around them and Wakefield are one of those teams.
“I have been brought in here to contribute to the team and give myself an opportunity. I am firmly in the Wakefield corner and we need the two points.
“It is not the be-all and end-all for Wakefield, because we are eight points in front of Bradford, but certainly you want to be beating those teams around you. If we can get two points this week and then maybe two points the following game (at home to London Broncos) to get to 10/12 points, it is a nice step to have at this stage of the season.”