Lockers over injury

Shaun Wane

Shaun Wane

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SHAUN Wane today delivered some positive news about Sean O’Loughlin’s injury - though it comes with a big, fat asterisk attached to it.

Scan results this morning showed his Achilles tear injury has fully healed.

But the captain is still “extremely doubtful” for Saturday’s Grand Final showdown with Saturday.

Wane will make a decision on him later this week to see how he responds to training.

O’Loughlin has worn a protective boot for the last four weeks to protect his Achilles and give him the best possible chance of playing at Old Trafford if they reached the Super League showdown.

Looking further ahead, he should be fit to play for England in the World Cup.

Wane said: “The scan results have come back really good, but we’re still not sure whether he’ll be okay for Saturday or not.

“If I was pushed on it now, I’d say he was very unlikely. But we’ll give him a couple of days and have another look at him, and then make a decision then.”

Warrington hooker Micky Higham reckons Wigan will pose an even bigger threat if O’Loughlin figures, even accounting for his recent lay-off.

“He’ll be massive to them, he’s so influential to their team - he can do the tough stuff, he’s talented, his work-rate is phenomenal - he’s a special player and would be a massive boost if he’s fit,” said the ex-Warriors hooker.

“But Wigan have quality and strike everywhere, and they’re a workmanlike team too.”

Departing forward Chris Tuson is expected to come in and replace Jack Hughes in his squad, with Dom Crosby shaping as the most obvious choice to make way for O’Loughlin should he be given the green-light.

That would allow Ben Flower, who has been covering at loose forward so well in recent weeks, to return to his favoured role in the front-row.

Wane reported a “good vibe” around the training camp as they continue their preparations to tackle Warrington.

The former prop actually played against the Wire at the ground in 1987, and reckons the two-decade gap since the derby rivals last met in a final will serve to ratchet up the excitement as Saturday approaches.

“The way it’s panned out, it’s exciting,” he said. “It’s unbelievable that we’ve not met in so many years, and it’s got the makings of a great game with the way both sides can play.”

Wane, who admires their free-scoring style of play, acknowledges the contest is a clash of ages as well as style, with Warrington boasting far more 30-somethings than a youthful Wigan line-up.

“”They are a big offloading team, they like quick play the balls - I like how they play,” said Wane.

“My team is inexperienced, they’re young, it’s a challenge for us.

“But on any given day we can play and we’ll give ourselves a chance.

“We know what we need to do.”

FOR THE FULL STORY AND A FABULOUS 16-PAGE GRAND FINAL SUPPLEMENT SEE THIS WEEK’S WIGAN OBSERVER (OUT TUESDAY) ...