O'Loughlin's Magic moments

For obvious reasons he won't boast about it, but when Sean O'Loughlin runs out tonight he will be the only Wigan player who also figured in the first Magic Weekend match in 2007.

Saturday, 20th May 2017, 11:25 am
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 9:20 pm
Sean O'Loughlin in the 2008 loss to Saints - the last year Wigan lost a Magic Weekend fixture

Thomas Leuluai was also at the club - but he is absent tonight - while Joel Tomkins was in the side butchered 57-16 by St Helens the following year.

But since then, the club’s record in the annual ‘on the road’ fixture is superb, particularly given the A-list opposition they have faced.

Wigan have never lost a Magic Weekend game since Brian Noble led them to a Murrayfield triumph against St Helens in 2009.

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O'Loughlin floors his former team-mate Luke Robinson in the 2010 victory at Edinburgh

The closest they went to defeat was in Michael Maguire’s second year - drawing 16-16 with St Helens in the only Magic event to launch the season - while Shaun Wane has a perfect record stretching back to 2012.

Asked if he could explain their golden run, O’Loughlin said: “When something happens so often, you do wonder whether there may be something in it, but if there is I can’t put my fingers on it.

“I just know the lads like playing in the big games, at big venues, against good teams.”

Newcastle is the fourth different Magic venue and Warrington are the fourth different opposition for O’Loughlin, who returns to the side tonight after missing the last two games through Test duty and then injury.

O'Loughlin floors his former team-mate Luke Robinson in the 2010 victory at Edinburgh

And he has enjoyed seeing the event - which stages a full round of fixtures on one pitch over a weekend - become an important part of the Super League schedule.

“For the first few years, the Magic Weekend had a novelty feel, but now it’s a real event,” he said. “It’s embedded in.

“Most of the lads who play now have never played in a season without it, it’s all they’ve known.

“They’re great events to be a part of.

“I like Newcastle, and I thought Manchester was great because it opened it up for making it easier to go there and back in a day.

“For me personally, I like going to new grounds, places I’ve not been before.”

He says there is an added bonus from playing at Magic, as they better-prepare young players for the big stadiums - and louder crowds - of finals.

“Going to a neutral ground does give it the feel of a final, it’s a different experience, especially with them always being at the big stadiums,” said the 34-year-old. “When we’ve been involved in the finals, it gives the younger lads that bit of experience.”

A tie with Warrington, he says, holds just as much appeal as Leeds and St Helens.

“They’re back on track and we’ve had some tough games against them,” he said.

The game has taken on greater significance by the fact both heavyweights are outside the top-four.

Wigan, in fifth, could fall five-points behind a play-offs spot if they lose this game.

Ninth-placed Warrington trail them by four points.

But O’Loughlin echoed Shaun Wane’s remarks that they won’t be concerned about the league table just yet.

“You just go out to win every game, there’s no thoughts on where we are in the table,” he added.

“We want to finish as high as we can and if you get the wins, that happens. We’re focusing on ourselves and how we perform, getting as much as we can from the combinations now.

“I bet if you ask the lads, they’ll not know where Warrington are and where we are.

“I don’t know what position we’re in, how many points. At the back-end of the season, it may come into (our thoughts).”