Shaun Wane has backed captain Sean O’Loughlin to shine next season, and thinks a break over winter will do him ‘the world of good.’
The Warriors skipper was ruled-out of England’s upcoming Four Nations campaign despite leading Wigan to their Grand Final success over Warrington earlier this month, but coach Wayne Bennett hasn’t shut the door on O’Loughlin playing for his country again.
He will have a break and it will do him the world of good. If he does the right thing with his body he’ll do well for usShaun Wane
The Grand Final was O’Loughlin’s 19th appearance of the season, and his first since the win over Wakefield on August 5, after which he was sidelined by a hamstring injury, and then a calf injury sustained in the warm-up for the Super 8s clash against Catalans on September 23.
But Wane thinks an injury-free O’Loughlin could be a Man of Steel contender, and says he doesn’t think the skipper would turn down a future opportunity to play for England.
“He will always want to play for his country,” said Wane.
“He showed in the Grand Final he’s a fantastic player. To come back in after so long out, and play so well, speaks volumes about the player he is.
“If he’d had a full season playing like he did at the weekend, he’d be up there as Man of Steel, I thought he was fantastic.”
England coach Bennett handed the captaincy to Sam Burgess for the Four Nations, where they kick-off their campaign against New Zealand at Huddersfield on October 29.
But while O’Loughlin will watch on this autumn, Bennett says the Grand Final winner featuring in next year’s World Cup is still a possibility.
The England boss said earlier this week: “He needs to have a good off season and we will have a look at him for the World Cup.”
And Wane thinks the right approach in the off season will ensure O’Loughlin can add plenty more to his 382 club appearances in 2017.
He said: “He will have a break and it will do him the world of good. If he does the right thing with his body he’ll do well for us next season.”