SEAN O’Loughlin admits the prospect of being crowned the best team in the world has propelled their pre-season training to a new level.
The Warriors will face NRL champions St George Illawarra in the World Club Challenge showdown at the DW Stadium on February 27.
Wigan have a glorious history in the battle between the two hemispheres’ best sides, having won in 1987 (against Manly), 1991 (Penrith) and 1994 (Brisbane).
And Michael Maguire’s charges are desperate to add another triumph to that impressive haul.
Wigan have returned to training following a Christmas break, and loose forward O’Loughlin [left] – entering his 10th year in the senior squad – has noticed an extra spring in the step of his team-mates.
He said: “It’s good for us that we have the World Club, it means we have to start the season well and put in some good performances before then.
“The lads are already thinking about the World Club. As soon as it registered we had this opportunity it’s given the lads a big buzz.
“It means the pre-season games and the early games have a bit more incentive because everyone wants to be playing in that (WCC) game, and so everyone’s trying to impress Madge and get in the side.
“The intensity in training has really stepped up, and that’s what we’ll need to hit the ground running.”
O’Loughlin’s former Wigan team-mate Adrian Lam is on the Dragons’ coaching staff.
“I learned a lot from Lammy, he certainly had a big influence on me as I was coming into the team,” said O’Loughlin. “He was a great player but he’s a good bloke off the pitch as well, it’ll be good to catch up with him.”
Last season marked O’Loughlin’s first trophy with his home-town club. He was the 18th man when Wigan last won a piece of silverware – the Challenge Cup in 2002 – and though retirement is not on the 28-year-old’s radar, he is desperate to taste more success.
“You’re never satisfied. Winning the Grand Final has just fuelled the fire to go on and win some more trophies,” he said.
“I think we’re in a good position to do it. The squad is looking good, we finished last season as well as we could have done and we’ve brought in three quality signings from Melbourne (Ryan Hoffman, Jeff Lima and Brett Finch).
“They are a big asset to us and I think as time goes on, they’ll come out of their shells a bit more and play their parts next season.
“Some young lads have stepped up as well so we’re looking good.
“We set a standard for ourselves last year and we have to stick with that now. We’ll keep that high intensity and we feel if we keep that up we’ll have an edge on everyone else.”