Anthony Gelling developed a cult following in Super League for his comical videos on social media but if things go as he hopes this season the New Zealand Warriors recruit could have the script for a Hollywood movie.
After seeking a release from Wigan to return to Auckland following a car crash in which his girlfriend was seriously injured, Gelling had to beg for an opportunity with the club he had always expected to play for when he joined Sydney Roosters as an 18-year-old in 2009.
Again turned away when he approached the Warriors late last year, Gelling refused to give up and the Cook Islands international now has 12 months to prove himself but he is aiming to win more than just a contract extension.
“I have got one year to do something special, we have got a special team and to come back here and win the comp would be unreal,” Gelling told NRL.com in his first day of media interviews since being offered an unexpected lifeline by the Warriors 10 days ago.
“It is not the normal way of changing clubs, I suppose, but I am happy with how it has turned out.”
In his six seasons with Wigan, Gelling became accustomed to success, playing in two Super League grand finals and last year’s Challenge Cup final at Wembley Stadium.
Yet he had been resigned to sitting out this season after initially being advised the Warriors had a bevy of centres, including New Zealand World Cup pair Gerard Beale and Peta Hiku and Tonga duo David Fusitu’a and Solomone Kata.
“I had a sit down with some of the coaching staff and they told me the squad was full but maybe 2019 would be an option,” Gelling said.
“If you want to play rugby league in New Zealand there is only one top flight club so I was looking at rugby union in August in Northland. I met with their coach and looked around their facilities but I didn’t want to be sitting around for so long so I had been looking at jobs or studying.”
While in England, Gelling obtained a diploma in television and film production and he has showcased his skills with a series of light-hearted videos on social media about teammates, opposition players and even video refereeing.
After signing with the Warriors, he posted a video about his 38-days of unemployment before being invited to train with the club and eventually offered a contract.
“I take my football very seriously but off the field, with the media stuff, I like to have a bit of fun,” said Gelling, who earned the nickname “Man of the People” from Super League fans.
“I enjoy the game and the characters in the game just as much as any fan. I just like to have fun with it and play around I suppose.
“Sports journalism is something I am really interested in, and that is all sports too. I am just a sports nerd I suppose so it is just like a creative outlet for me.”
However, Gelling is not thinking of life after football yet and he believes the experience he gained with Wigan can benefit the Warriors this season.
After failing to make the play-offs since 2011, the Warriors have been widely discounted as a premiership force but Gelling believes the club has a roster capable of shocking many people this season.
“It is a good vibe here and I think we have got a good squad,” he said. “Everybody loves an underdog and that is what we are.
“I consider myself a huge underdog coming here on a one year deal to a team that is the home of the underdogs.
“We haven’t made the top eight for six years so it would be like a fairy tale story to go all the way and win it this year.”