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Ade Gardner happy to do the hard yards for the team
9:30am Thursday 7th March 2013 in Sport
LONG-serving Saints wing Ade Gardner comes across as pretty relaxed about the future despite vowing to fight for another contract at the club he has made his own.
He knows there is continued pressure on wing spots, with plenty of young talent waiting in the wings in the shape of Adam Swift, Tommy Makinson and even the versatile speedster Mark Percival.
Although the 29-year-old, who headed south from Barrow as a teenager, has made St Helens his home and said it would be the stuff of dreams to see out his career at Langtree Park – he said he would have no hard feelings if he is told to look elsewhere. In the meantime he is happy to do what he does best – the early hard yards, returning the ball with speed and determination to get his team on the front foot.
Gardner said: “I have been here 12 seasons – I love the place it is my home now.
“I moved down here when I was 18, I have kids in schools down here and love the club. So I will try and do as much as is humanly possible to earn a new contract.
“If that doesn’t work out and the club decide to go a different way that is fair enough - not many people done 12 years at Saints.
“If that happens I will move on and do my best there.
“But club is in my heart and I would love to get another couple of years here and that would finish my career. That’s the stuff dreams are made of.
“If not I won’t have any complaints and like to think I have given good service but have to move on then so be it.”
Gardner offers something different to the young winger Makinson, who he has displaced this past two games with his forte being the way he unflinchingly thunders the ball into the brick wall in front of him.
And he did meet a brick wall last Friday against Leeds, in what was a tough match to continue his return to first team action after having his previous season terminated in May.
Gardner added: “Leeds was a tough game to play in, they are a good side but I thought we did all right. There were some good signs there but a lot to work on as well.
“We can take a lot of confidence out of the game.
“It was hard to get any flow out there to get us any ball, we did not do well enough to really break them down or apply pressure to them. We have identified that so we know we can kick on from there.
“With the style I play I just try and get there and be as intense and involved as much as possible.
“All Super League are big, but Leeds especially so given the history between the sides this past two seasons.”
For two years running Gardner’s season has ended – uncannily – on the same day, May 27. That lay off, and a few set-backs as he tried to make his way back towards the end of 2012, meant that Makinson was able to hold down that spot for the opening three games.
However, a Makinson blip in form against Hull handed Gardner his chance to return for the Bradford game after a sterling performance for twin club Whitehaven.
But he knows that the competition is not going to go away.
“It is not just me and Tommy, Adam Swift is coming back to fitness now and he is a good young kid, and Mark Percivsal can play on the wing too and you saw how well he played at the weekend.
“From my point of view I am 29 and have a lot of experience and it is about making that experience tell as best as I can.
“I just try and do the hard stuff and hopefully the boys and the coaching staff appreciate that.
“All the boys are good lads – Percy, Tommy and Swifty, but at the end of the day I have a family to feed and don’t want to lose my spot.
“We all try and make each other better and push each other and we all appreciate that.”
Hopefully Gardner will be able to complete his season after having miserable luck in recent years.
Agonisingly, after playing throughout 2010, the strong-running wing was dropped by then boss Mick Potter for the last ever game at Knowsley Road and missed the subsequent Grand Final at Old Trafford.
Then midway through 2011 he snapped his Achilles against Crusaders, which he explained was really tough given he was off contract that year.
Gardner explains: “It was really tough because I was coming to the end of my contract and was shattered thinking ‘I’ll have bills to pay at the end of the season’, but thankfully the club stood by us and gave me another two years. I had a shoulder reconstruction in the mean time.
“Last year was more frustrating because I was in as good a form as I have played in.
“My knee went at Cas on Easter Monday and me being pig-headed I came back a week too soon and made my injury worse at Magic.
“It was difficult but was earmarked to me back for last six games but the training session on the Monday before my comeback game in the 20s I had a freak accident where the turf gave way and twisted my knee. I then got a couple of niggles and before I knew it the saeason weas over.
"It was most difficult part of my career because I could not get my knee right and started panicking. Everything is sorted now and I get no bother from my knee.
“I just want to want to keep working as hard as I can for this club.”