Former team-mate and current Warriors rugby director Kris Radlinski salutes Sean O’Loughlin ahead of his landmark 400th game
There is something special about a person who is unaware of the effect that he has on his peers.
Somebody who doesn’t know that by merely being in the room, the mood has been uplifted. Sean O’Loughlin is one of those people. His unassuming and calm approach to life brings out the very best in those who he works with. Being captain of one of the most famous sporting organisations in the world, Wigan Rugby League Club, and also captaining your country, is a pretty daunting task but one which Sean takes completely in his stride.
The ultimate thing that a sportsman craves is respect.
What his team-mates and opponents think about him is what drives Sean O’Loughlin. In many respects he is an unsung hero because many accolades go to the more high-profile players in the team, and perhaps his team-mates and the supporters of Wigan take for granted what he brings. The truth is we don’t. When he is not there, we miss him dearly.
So what does he bring? Leadership.
He is not a captain who talks or shouts a great deal, he is a man of action.
He lets his rugby league do the talking. When he does speak, though, he has the ability to make people listen. His work ethic inspires others to work hard. Even at the age of 34 he still thinks he can get better, get fitter or get stronger. He has tremendous mental strength. In the face of adversity people show their true colours. In his many years at the club, he has addressed losses, injuries and poor form like a man, and worked hard to correct. He is trusted by his team-mates and coaches because he has no other agenda – he just wants to be himself and be as good as he can be.
Not many people put more hours in than Sean. When his first-team duties are finished, he showers and puts the tracksuit back on as he works with our junior kids, sometimes as late as 9pm. The message that this sends out to young players and parents is such a positive one. Captaining your club and country, yet still prepared to put something back into the game. This isn’t directed or instructed by the club. This is because Sean knows that he has a responsibility to the people of this town. If he is not at training or at junior training, you will probably find him in the amateur rugby clubs around town, watching games or helping out at training.
He is the perfect ambassador for Wigan Rugby League Club. He values our traditions and history and he will go down as one of the great captains.
In an era of over-paid, ego-driven sportsmen, and off-field incidents getting as much attention as on-field achievements, Sean O’Loughlin is as refreshing as can be. He gets the headlines the way a sportsman should, by plying his trade to the very best level with honour, dignity and tremendous sportsmanship. He is a supreme athlete and one that the people of Wigan are proud of. The sport of rugby league is lucky to have him.