‘Born to be a leader’

The front page of the Wigan Warriors Grand Final pull-out which is out now
The front page of the Wigan Warriors Grand Final pull-out which is out now

SEAN O’Loughlin’s appointment as England skipper has been fully endorsed by four former Test captains.

The Warriors forward will lead the national team Down Under for the Four Nations competition next Tuesday.

The Wigan Observer contacted a number of past skippers and the opinion was unanimous – that coach Steve McNamara made the right call.

Wigan icon Shaun Edwards said: “England have got themselves a fantastic captain.

“Sean leads by example, and his fitness levels are incredible – he’s a great example to any young player.

“I’ve known his family for many years, I’ve seen him grow up and develop and he’s a credit to himself, his club and his family.”

Jamie Peacock, who stepped down from internationals to focus on his Leeds career, paid tribute to O’Loughlin’s all-round ability, as well as the attacking traits which created the Joe Burgess try against Warrington and sent Wigan through to the Grand Final.

“How many other players can go down the short side late with a cutout ball to a winger to score as well as be able to belt people from kick-off?” he told the Observer.

“He has massive respect from all players due to his ability to play both very subtle and very physical.”

Ex-GB vice-captain and captain Paul Sculthorpe, who played 26 times for his country between 1996 and 2006, labelled O’Loughlin ‘the obvious choice’ to take over from Kevin Sinfield.

“In a captain, you look to someone who will lead from the front with their performance and inspire others,” said the St Helens great, who lives in Orrell.

“That’s something he does every time he crosses the whitewash for both Wigan and England.

“He is a very physical competitor who won’t take a backward step, but also a very intelligent footballer, who can open up defences.

“I’m really pleased for him and I wish him the best of luck leading the team Down Under.”

Brian Noble, O’Loughlin’s coach at Wigan between 2006 and 2009, is familiar with the demands of leading the national side Down Under, having captained Great Britain’s Tour of Australia in 1984.

“He follows a long line of really substantial and important people and he fits into that category,” he said.

“He is one of the first names you always pick – he’s been blighted by injuries and missed a few games but when he’s healthy and fit he’s obviously up there for me as number one.

“He’s an outstanding bloke and an outstanding player.”

Former captains Peacock and Kevin Sinfield are among those who have sent messages of congratulations to O’Loughlin.

England’s Four Nations chances have been boosted by withdrawals of highly-rated Johnathan Thurston, Billy Slater, Matt Scott, Paul Gallen (all Australia), Tuivasa-Sheck and Waerea-Hargreaves (New Zealand).

England open their campaign against Samoa on October 25.

MORE ON THIS STORY AND MANY MORE ARE FEATURED IN A SPECIAL GRAND FINAL SUPPLEMENT INSIDE THIS WEEK’S WIGAN OBSERVER. AMONG THE 19 PAGES OF WARRIORS NEWS ARE INTERVIEWS WITH JOEL TOMKINS, EDDY PETTYBOURNE, JOE BURGESS, SHAUN WANE, MATTY SMITH AND BLAKE GREEN.