Tigers’ Gilmour has no intention of hanging up boots just yet

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Comparatively speaking, Lee Gilmour is still just a young buck.

The ex-Great Britain international may have featured for Wigan at Super League’s inaugural Grand Final way back in 1998 and he does turn 35 in barely three weeks.

But when he lines up against Catalan’s Steve Menzies tomorrow, second-row Gilmour will be reminded at first hand that there is no need to start thinking just yet about packing it all in.

It is widely known that his exalted Australian opponent reaches 40 at the end of the year yet still somehow carries on defying medical science and logic to continue embarrassing players half his age.

“I’ve got this year and next year contracted, we’ll just see how it goes and how the body holds up,” Gilmour tells the Yorkshire Post, now firmly bedded in at Castleford after his winter switch from Huddersfield Giants.

“I’ve noticed Steve has moved out to the centres (from second-row) now which will be good on his body as he’s not getting as much heavy contact.

“He plays a really smart game Steve; he’s a proper classy footballer.

“Our games differ slightly but I would like to emulate him.

“I wouldn’t like to drag it out too long though where I felt like I was embarrassing myself or my standards were dropping too much.

“Obviously as you get into your late 30s you’re not going to be the player you were when you were 25 or 27 but as long as I’m playing at a standard I’m happy with then I’ll continue and hopefully it will be with Castleford.”

It was Gilmour’s erstwhile coach Ian Millward – who got the best out of him during a career zenith at St Helens – that sought to bring him to Wheldon Road to lend some vast experience and professionalism to a squad which certainly needed a guiding hand.

There is some clear evidence it is paying dividends already with impressive Castleford having delivered a memorable and rare win over champions Leeds Rhinos on their last home outing.

They may have fallen away in the final 10 minutes at Bradford last weekend, hamstrung by two players being in the sin-bin and already without the suspended Rangi Chase, but Gilmour said: “That final scoreline (38-12) didn’t truly reflect the game.

“We’re showing the right signs and we’ll keep improving.

“I’m really enjoying working with Ian again, they’re a good bunch of lads here and Castleford is a massive rugby league town.

“The atmosphere against Leeds was absolutely unbelievable and we’re looking forward to getting back at home this week.

“Catalan are another big, physical side – just like Bradford – and we’re expecting the same sort of contest.”

It will also see Gilmour pitted against one of his oldest friends in the sport. Leon Pryce was still just a prodigiously-talented teenager when Gilmour joined him at Bradford in 2001 but they went on to enjoy three trophy-laden years together at Odsal.

Recruited by Millward, Gilmour moved on to Saints for the start of 2004 and his former team-mate joined him there again just two years later, losing his utility tag to evolve into a fine stand-off as they again formed part of another formidable outfit.

Throw in a few Great Britain performances, too, and it is fair to say the duo know each other inside out.

“I thought every time Catalan did something dangerous or scored a try at Warrington last week Leon was heavily involved,” said Gilmour.

“He’s loving it out there in France. It’s a bit of a surprise how much he is, in fact.

“The lifestyle and style of rugby they play suits him and he took a grip against Warrington with Scott Dureau injured.”

Does Gilmour regret not trying a move overseas himself?

“I think now with the amount of people going to Australia it’s a little bit easier with the pound weak over there and the salary cap going sky high,” he said.

“It’s an easy transition for players but I suppose when I was coming through there was only really Adrian Morley going out there to do that.

“And I think because it took me so long to finally find a regular position, rather than playing centre, wing, back-row and loose forward, that didn’t help.

“It was only at Saints – when I was 24 or 25 – under Ian that I settled at second-row and once I got there I absolutely loved it.

“We were a great side and, if I’m honest, I never wanted to leave.”

He did, though, for three years at Huddersfield which were largely enjoyable until a “frustrating” extended and unnecessary, in his eyes, spell as an auxiliary prop under Nathan Brown last season.

He is back in his favoured role with Castleford now but do not be surprised if, like the evergreen Menzies, this Dewsbury lad ends up back running out wide in the centres.