RYAN Hoffman has effectively hailed Sean O’Loughlin as one of the world’s top-five players ahead of Saturday’s Wembley showdown.
O’Loughlin will lead the Warriors out against Leeds aiming to get his hands on the Challenge Cup for the first time in his career.
And Hoffman has seen enough of the loose-forward this season to convince him that he will go down as one of the club’s great.
The Australian described his Wigan skipper as being among “the top five players I’ve played alongside” – high-praise indeed, considering his former team-mates include the likes of Johnathan Thurston, Darren Lockyer, Greg Inglis, Billy Slater and Cameron Smith, who are widely regarded as being the game’s elite.
Hoffman said: “Ten or 15 years down the line, it’ll be pictures of Sean O’loughlin and Sam Tomkins on these walls (at the DW Stadium).
“Lockers is a great player and a great leader – I have no doubt that he will be a future legend. What he’s done so far is scary, and to think he has so many more years before he hangs up his boots.
“He’d be up there with the top five players I’ve played with.”
Warriors depart for London from the DW Stadium today, when both camps will name their 19-man squads for the decider.
While this is obviously Hoffman’s first Challenge Cup Final, he is drawing on his Grand Final and Test match experience to help him prepare for the BBC-televised blockbuster.
“The only advice I can give the boys is to enjoy it,” he added. “It’s another game in terms of you’ve got to go out onto the pitch and play well, but in terms of preparation it’s completely different, you have to embrace it.
“Josh Charnley and Lee Mossop are the only ones not to have played in a final either here or in the NRL, so all I’d say to them is you’re here for a reason – you did the job all year so just go out and do the same this week.”