O’Loughlin: ‘87 legends sparked us up

Hat-trick hero Joe Burgess and Sean O'Loughlin
Hat-trick hero Joe Burgess and Sean O'Loughlin

Sean O’Loughlin saluted his team-mates after they finally landed the ‘one that had got away’.

The Wigan captain has won every domestic honour, captained England to a series victory against New Zealand and even enjoyed the thrill of beating Australia on their own home soil during his stellar career.

But the World Club Challenge had escaped him, with losses to St George Illawarra in 2011 and Sydney Roosters three years later - until the epic 22-6 win against Cronulla.

“It was such a tough, physical battle,” he said. “There were a lot of errors but we knew it would be like that.

“The important thing is we dealt with everything they sent us.

“It felt like a Test match. They’re quite predictable with the way they play, but knowing what to do is one thing, stopping them is another because they have a lot of big bodies running at you.

“We spoke all week about efforts, defending when you’re fatigued, because they continually go at you. The effort on effort takes it out of you, but all the boys dug deep.”

O’Loughlin said bringing players from the winning ‘87 team “sparked up our week, got everyone buzzing”.

“Because we got to see what it meant to them as players, all these years later – we watched some of the highlights and everyone came away with a real excitement,” he said.

While the victory - a day after Warrington’s win against Brisbane - has given Super League’s credibility a much-needed boost, O’Loughlin put the wins into perspective.

“I didn’t think we were that far off last time, we just didn’t show up and perform, and vice versa – it doesn’t mean we’re killing it now we’ve won.

“We know it’s tough for them coming over, because we had that when we went over to Sydney to play the Roosters three years ago.

“You’ve got to perform and neither side was clinical, but we did enough.”