SEAN O’Loughlin last night spoke of his delight after Kris Radlinski offered to lace up the boots in his testimonial game tomorrow.
Warriors rugby manager Radlinski has agreed to come out of retirement – for a second time – and play against Huddersfield at the DW Stadium.
The former Test No.1 has not played in more than five-and-a-half years but answered a request from O’Loughlin to take part.
And the club captain could not be happier.
He said: “We were chatting yesterday and I jokingly asked Rads would he play.
“I don’t think he was so keen on the idea at first so I thought he’d say ‘no’. But then he turned around and said, ‘If you want me to play, I will’.
“I’m chuffed to bits about it and I’m really grateful to Rads, because it’s been a while since he last played.
“It’s a great way to start my testimonial year.”
Radlinski famously came out of retirement in 2006 to help guide Wigan away from the threat of relegation, before hanging up his boots – for a second time – later that season.
“Some of the lads have already made comparisons to Paul Scholes coming out of retirement and playing for Man United,” said O’Loughlin.
“How long he plays, depends on how he feels. But Rads has kept himself fit since he retired, he still trains regularly, and hopefully we see glimpses of what he used to do regularly for Wigan.
“I know the term ‘legend’ gets banded about a lot but Kris really is a legend of the club and of the game, and it’ll be great to see him out there for one last time.”
O’Loughlin debuted in 2002 – the same year Radlinski won the Lance Todd Trophy in the Challenge Cup Final – and nominated his former team-mate in his ‘Dream Team’ which is featured in his official testimonial brochure.
At 35, Radlinski will line-up alongside some players who were still in nappies when he debuted himself back in 1993.
Coach Shaun Wane is planning to hand chances to a clutch of rising stars in tomorrow night’s match (kick-off 8pm).
But there will be plenty of familar faces, too, with O’Loughlin himself, Chris Tuson and Thomas Leuluai set to figure.
New-boy Epalahame Lauaki is in the frame, while Gareth Hock is set to play his first match in four months after completing a suspension for gouging.
Tomorrow’s match will officially launch the milestone year for O’Loughlin, who is using his testimonial to support three good causes – Wigan Youth Zone, the Emma Hoolin Appeal and the Alzheimer’s Society. Other events are planned later in the year.
Wigan’s senior players complete their pre-season programme at Salford next Tuesday, though a young side will face Leigh three days later.