Could it be Magic again?

Sean O'Loughlin believes it is only a matter of time before Leeds stop the rot '“ and is desperate to ensure it isn't this weekend.

Thursday, 19th May 2016, 1:15 pm
Updated Thursday, 19th May 2016, 3:21 pm
Wigan Warriors' Sam Tomkins celebrates after his team's victory during the 2013 Super League Magic Weekend

This Saturday’s Grand Final rematch has taken on a new complexion by the treble-winners’ woeful campaign.

They are out of the Challenge Cup and now have just nine games to try and claw their way into the top-eight before the season splits into the Super-8s.

O’Loughlin has been as shocked as anyone by the Rhinos’ tumbling fortunes, but remains convinced their position at the bottom of the table is misleading.

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And with a proud Magic record to preserve – Wigan have not lost since 2008 – he is hoping they don’t turn the corner in their headlining clash.

The England skipper said: “From our point of view we’re two losses in Super League and we don’t want to be the team who Leeds kickstart their season against.

“We know they’re not that far away from flicking things around, hopefully we’ll get the win before they do that. It’s really surprising where they are, but they are still littered with class players and they’ll be doing everything right behind the scenes to get back to winning wins.

“We bring the best out of each other and they’re always great challenges.”

Wigan’s 30-16 defeat against Hull FC saw them slip out of the top-four, although that in itself is misleading, with Shaun Wane’s men just two points from the top.

And with the likes of Ben Flower, Sam Tomkins, Joel Tomkins, George Williams and O’Loughlin himself now all fit, he hopes they can step up their bid to finish the campaign on top.

“Position-wise we’re happy, but we’ve not been playing our best,” said the 33-year-old.

“No one has gripped the top of the table so it’s still in our sights – we’re capable of challenging for the top spot, but so are a few other clubs. It’s wide open.

“You look at it, and the top two or three are usually running away with it right now, but everyone has had dips of form and injuries.

“No one has had a great run all year, I can see this one going down to the wire.”

Full-back Tomkins travelled to Newcastle earlier this month for a promotional event and is looking forward to playing at St James’ Park.

He is a huge fan of the concept of staging six games at one venue over the same weekend.

“I’ve been excited about this since I went up there,” said Tomkins, who made his long-awaited return from injury last Friday.

“It’s a great stadium. We’ve got a great concept in the Magic Weekend and hopefully everybody gets behind it.

“Everyone is buzzing for this one and there aren’t many bigger fixtures than Wigan-Leeds. “

His last match against the Rhinos was in 2013, when they edged a play-off 22-12 to book a Grand Final spot and give Tomkins a dream send-off to the NRL.

Many of the Leeds players are still at the club though they have endured different fortunes, lurching from one loss to another in a dreadful campaign.

They sit bottom of the table on six points, six away from a crucial place in the top-eight – and only nine games to go before the season splits for the Super 8s.

Captain Danny McGuire admitted: “We’re doing it tough at the minute, but what a great place to come and play and kick-start the season.

“It’s not how I expected things to go at the start of the year when I was told I was captain.

“But that’s our sport, it’s a tough game and you need to take the rough with the smooth.

“ We’ve played Wigan for the last three or four years and we’ve had a decent rivalry with them over that time, and hopefully will be another exciting game.”