O’Loughlin back... as Flower sweats on ban

Sean O'Loughlin is set to return
Sean O'Loughlin is set to return

The threat of losing Ben Flower to suspension could be offset by the return of Sean O’Loughlin this Friday night.

Prop Flower has been hit with a Grade C charge of striking with forearm/elbow, for his high and late challenge on Warrington’s Declan Patton which saw him sent off.

The sentencing guidelines for Grade C offences is a ban of two to three games.

Wigan play their final match of the regular season against Catalans this Friday and have a semi-final the following week – with a place in the Grand Final at stake.

The RFL’s match review panel viewed the incident as “reckless”, rather than careless. The issue will now be decided by today’s disciplinary panel.

If he is suspended for the visit of Catalans Dragons, Wane at least has a high-calibre replacement.

He confirmed captain O’Loughlin is on track to make his return to action from a hamstring problem.

The 33-year-old has figured 18 times this season, the last of those being the 60-10 mauling of Wakefield at the start of August.

O’Loughlin’s hamstring injury has dragged on longer than initially expected, but he is expected to train today.

“Lockers should be fit,” said Wane.

“I need him to train this week and get some game time on Friday before the semi-final.”

Hooker Sam Powell is expected to recover from a head knock to face the Dragons, in a game marketed as the Big One 6, and Wane has no fresh injuries to worry about.

Willie Isa may yet face a fine or caution for his two-fingered salute to Warrington fans in Friday’s 35-28 win.

Isa used his Twitter account to later apologise. “I was caught in the heat of the moment and shouldn’t react to what people say in the crowd,” he said.

“I was very frustrated and did something that I truly regret. It is a great privileged to be a professional rugby league player and I let people down, and I am truly sorry.”

On a lighter note, Wane and several players tried a different challenge yesterday – crown green bowling!

It was the latest sport they have played in their free-time, following ‘foot golf’ and cricket.

Wane added: “Even at bowling, they’re so competitive. That’s the spirit they have, it’s full on.”

Wigan’s Under-19s Grand Final with St Helens will kick-off at 2pm at Langtree Park on Sunday.