Wane will wait for O'Loughlin


30th September 2013

Shaun Wane will do all he can to ensure Sean O'Loughlin returns from injury to lead Wigan Warriors in Saturday's Super League Grand Final against Warrington Wolves at Old Trafford.

The Warriors loose forward has played in only one of his club's last 11 Super League matches due to knee and Achilles injuries and has been wearing a surgical boot for the last month.

However, O'Loughlin demonstrated his importance to the Wigan team when he made a triumphant return in last month's Challenge Cup final at Wembley, where he led his side to a 16-0 victory over Hull FC, and Warriors coach Wane is desperate to have his influential skipper on the field at Old Trafford.

"We'll check on him today," Wane said. "He's having another scan and we'll run him tomorrow and see how he is.

"I'd like to know tomorrow if I could but, if he needs another day, then so be it. If we can get him on the field, then we will."

Wolves coach Tony Smith, whose only injury doubt is second rower Trent Waterhouse, knows the value of O'Loughlin having picked him out earlier in the year as a worthy Man of Steel and believes both teams will be at full strength.

"I think it will be the same for both those two boys," Smith said. "They are both experienced and they will do whatever they can to get on the park.

"We're expecting Sean to play and I'm sure they're expecting Waterhouse to be there as well."

Despite missing most of the second half of the season, O'Loughlin was shortlisted for the Man of Steel award, along with Huddersfield Giants' Danny Brough and Leeds Rhinos' Jamie Peacock.

Wigan full-back Sam Tomkins, who has led the Warriors in O'Loughlin's absence, has no doubt over the forward's importance to the side.

"I'd love Lockers to be playing," said Tomkins. "He's our best player and you always want your best players to be playing in a final.

"I'd be disappointed if he doesn't make it. It would mean that I'd lead the team out but I'd much rather have Lockers playing."

Centre or second rower Jack Hughes would be the most likely player to make way for O'Loughlin while several Warrington players will be sweating over the return of Waterhouse, who sat out last week's win over Huddersfield with a knee injury.

Smith is relishing the selection dilemma but admits it will mean heartbreak for one of his players.

"To go and tell some boys who have busted their socks off all year that they've missed out is one of the hardest parts of the job that some people probably don't understand," he said. "But it's got to be done."

Wigan are seeking to become only the third club to complete the double in the 18 years of summer rugby and first since St Helens followed up Wembley glory with victory at Old Trafford in 2006.

"It would be a great achievement for us but we know we're up against a fantastic team," said Wane.

Warrington, who have won the Challenge Cup three times in the last five years, went desperately close to completing the elusive feat 12 months ago when they went down 26-18 to Leeds in the Grand Final.

Smith is hoping that experience will help them on Saturday as they seek to close out a first championship for 58 years.

"You would hope that you'd learn something each time you come particularly to this place," Smith said.

"It is different but it's still down to playing good rugby league on the day. That's what the focus has got to be on.

"We've had some terrific matches with Wigan over the last few years and I think a lot of people will be really happy to see this match-up.

"There have probably been some of the better games of the season when we play each other so Saturday should be a cracker."