O’Loughlin - Milestone is special

St Helens' Sean Long is tackled by Wigan's Sean O'Loughlin (right) during the Tetley's Super League match at Knowsley Road, St Helens, Friday April 9, 2004
St Helens' Sean Long is tackled by Wigan's Sean O'Loughlin (right) during the Tetley's Super League match at Knowsley Road, St Helens, Friday April 9, 2004

CAPTAIN fantastic Sean O’Loughlin admits it will be a “special” feeling when he makes his 350th appearance for Wigan.

The 32-year-old is set to reach the milestone in tomorrow’s Super League contest at Huddersfield.

O’Loughlin was only made aware of the impending landmark earlier this week, but since then has been flattered with tributes from the club he has served with distinction since 2002.

He said: “I didn’t realise it was 350, until I saw posters going up around the training ground!

“When I first started out here, you didn’t really celebrate milestones as much, but since 2010 - when Michael Maguire and Waney came in - they’ve made a bigger deal of them, and it’s great.

“To get this milestone, for my hometown club, is special, and something I’m proud of.”

O’Loughlin is 19th on the list of most appearances for Wigan.

He will be able to overtake Hector Gee and Joe Egan if he remains injury-free this year, and if he plays into next season - as expected - he could pass the likes of Denis Betts (367), Mick Cassidy (378) and 13th placed brother-in-law Andy Farrell (370).

Reflecting on his time with the club, he picked out the Grand Final (2010 and 2013) and Challenge Cup Final (2011 and 2013) triumphs as obvious highlights.

“But there are also some ‘against the odds’ games which stand out too. The Good Friday win with a team of kids, the one when Liam Farrell won it at the end, the comeback at Bradford in the play-offs... quite a few.”

O’Loughlin, who was appointed England captain last year, admits the celebrations will fall flat if Wigan fail to overcome Huddersfield tomorrow.

The Giants are fourth in the ladder and boast the best defensive record in Super League.

“It doesn’t surprise me how well they’ve gone, when you look at the quality they have,” said O’Loughlin.

“They’ve gone under the radar a bit. Our challenge is always defensively, we back ourselves to play well with the ball if we defend well.”

Wigan coach Shaun Wane says his team will be “pumped” as they prepare to celebrate O’Loughlin’s milestone.

“It’s special,” said Wane. “It’s all over the club. It means a lot to everybody here and the lads will be pumped this weekend.

“350 games for a player who plays like him is outstanding. It’s a lot of games for a bloke who plays so aggressively and throws his body into it.”

Wane rates the loose forward alongside other home-grown internationals Micky McIlorum, who made his 200th appearance for the club at the Magic Weekend, and Sam Tomkins as among the best players he has coached.

“He’s a great individual, smart, easy to coach and ultra-critical of himself,” he said.

“He’s provides a massive lesson to young kids who arrogantly think they’ve done everything.”