O'Loughlin insists Warriors can climb
Sean O'Loughlin believes Wigan are capable of surging up the table - once they find their rhythm.
While the Warriors captain is well-aware of their precarious position on the Super League table, his eyes are fixed firmly on making up ground on those sides above them.
Defeat to Widnes at the DW Stadium tomorrow would leave them just one-point above the bottom-four, if Catalans and Warrington win their matches against Leigh and Wakefield today.
With only four rounds to go before the split for the Super-8s phase, the pressure is on.
“We know we need to pick some wins up or potentially we won’t make the top (eight),” said O’Loughlin. “But we feel we’re not far off, and we’re not just going to scrape into the eight, we’re going to climb.
“We’re aware we need to get some points, we’ve got some catching up to do, but there’s no stress.
“If we win these next four, we’ll be in a great position to challenge going into the Super-8s.”
Their 19-19 draw at Huddersfield last week was their eighth league game without victory - a century-old record even worse than in 2006, when they fended off relegation.
“This doesn’t feel anything like that year,” O’Loughlin pointed out. “Results haven’t gone our way, but there have been issues with injuries and things.... there’s no crisis, we feel form is just around the corner.
“We’ve not played particularly bad recently - we’ve not been far off.
“I came away from Huddersfield, we weren’t crash hot, but I thought, ‘They’re a good side’.
“The week before, we beat Warrington (in the Cup), and some people said it was a turning point.
“But it’s only a turning point if we back it up. We didn’t win last week but a draw is not the end of the world, and now we just need some wins and kick on from it.”
He draws encouragement from their achievement last year, when they recovered from a slump in form - losing five from seven - to finish the rest of the year unbeaten and as Super League champions.
“We were probably in a stronger position then, but at the back end of the Super-8s, we kicked up some good form and got on a bit of a roll and that took us into the play-offs,” he said.
Widnes, who have Wigan legend Denis Betts at the helm, twice won at the DW Stadium last year.
“They’ll not be a pushover,” added O’Loughlin, one of several key players who returned from injury in the Warrington victory. “There are parts of our game where we’ve not been on, and it doesn’t matter who we come up against, it’s more about us as a team righting a few of those things rather than doing homework and strategies on who we’re playing.”