- After celebrating his 60th birthday on Saturday, we caught up with Wigan legend Henderson Gill, who says the Warriors will come back stronger in 2021 following November’s Grand Final defeat.
- The former winger reflected on the Grand Final, talked about the “Warriors DNA” to bounce back and praised the amount of talent in the current squad.
- Gill also reminisced about his memories playing for the Club and the fans.
Wigan Warriors great Henderson Gill is backing the Cherry and Whites to knock St Helens off their perch this year.
The legendary former Wigan winger believes coach Adrian Lam and his players will be inspired by the memories of defeat by Saints in the most dramatic Grand Final ever.
But Gill, who celebrated his 60th birthday on Saturday, is certain “Warriors DNA” will ensure they recover despite the “devastating” climax to the 2020 Super League season.
“It was such a shame that the season ended in heartbreak for Wigan who were very unfortunate not to finish on a high,” Gill said.
“Wigan will have gone away from the Grand Final absolutely devastated and I don’t blame them because I found it devastating.
“But I also thought to myself that it was very much a Wigan Warriors-style win – it was a real smash-and-grab victory.
“All it took was one chance and Saints capitalised on their opening to devastating effect but I know they will learn from it at my old club because that’s the Wigan way.”
Gill, speaking from his Huddersfield home, added: “It will be a real test of character but it’s in the Warriors DNA to bounce back.
“Lest we forget that they won the league so they’ve got something to show from their efforts.
“They’ve had a reward and they might have missed out on the ultimate prize but I know they will use that defeat as a spur to kick on when the new season starts.
“Wigan are still the team everyone wants to beat which is something you’ve got to live with when you’re at a great club like Wigan, especially with all the traditional rivalry with Saints.
“But they should be optimistic about the future because the Club is in good health and their standards are ever so high.
“But they will have to raise their game again and earn their keep even more to knock Saints off their perch which I’m sure they will do.
“The fact is Saints will go into the new season as the team to beat but Wigan are the best placed side to deny them a third Grand Final win so it should be a great season.
“We’ve got lots of very good players who have done well and they have to step up and they’ll miss Sean O’Loughlin now he’s retired because he was such a good leader.
“But they’ve got an embarrassment of riches when it comes to talent and there’s lots of players that I really admire.
“For starters, there’s my fellow Yorkshireman John Bateman, a player can fill the No.13 void left by Sean O’Loughlin and be a talisman.
“And then there’s the likes of Zak Hardaker, Willie Isa, Sam Powell, Liam, Farrell, Oliver Gildart, Bevan French and I could go on.
“Plus, the Club are lucky to have a really good coach at the helm in Adrian Lam and so once they settle into their stride again they’ll do really well.
“He’ll make sure that no one feels sorry for themselves and that’s there’s no hangover from the Grand Final.”
Gill believes Cherry and White supporters will be crucial once the gates are open again at the DW.
“For me, Wigan fans are the best in the world and they really make a difference,” Gill said.
“They’re not only very enthusiastic but they’re very knowledgeable and I’ll always look back fondly at the bond we created with them in our Central Park days.
“I count myself privileged to have played for Wigan and I’m proud to have represented the Club.
“I’ve got lots of great memories of playing with world class players but I want the fans to know how grateful I’ll always be for their support because it meant so much.
“I still count myself as a Warriors fan and I’m sure we’ll have lots to shout about in the new Super League season.”
By Rob Stewart