Tributes as Wigan Warriors captain Sean O'Loughlin confirms he will retire this month

Sean O'Loughlin has confirmed he will definitely call time on his glittering playing career this month - to take up a coaching role at Wigan.
Sean O'Loughlin will join the coaching staffSean O'Loughlin will join the coaching staff
Sean O'Loughlin will join the coaching staff

His decision will not come as a surprise, given his age and injuries this season, but he has formally ruled out the prospect of playing on next season.

It means the club legend, who has made 457 Wigan appearances since his 2002 debut, has potentially onto two more games to play - starting with Thursday's Super League semi-final against Hull FC.

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If Wigan reach the November 27 Grand Final, O'Loughlin will turn 38 three days earlier.

“I’ve always known it would be a difficult decision because it’s something you love doing," said O'Loughlin. "To not be able to do that going forward is pretty difficult to take.

“I’ve loved every minute of it. Even seasons when we’ve not won trophies, I’ve enjoyed playing. The reason you start playing as a kid is because you enjoy it and I don’t think I’ve ever lost that enjoyment. It’s got more difficult as you get older, but the enjoyment is still there.

“We’ve had tough years and years where we’ve done fantastically well, but I wouldn’t change any of it.

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“We’ve got two games left, so for me it’s been all about getting back and ready for that. When Lammy (Adrian Lam) puts a team out on the pitch, hopefully I can be a part of that.”

As well as captaining his hometown club to multiple domestic honours, O'Loughlin inspired their 2017 World Club Challenge win and has also played nearly 50 representative games, several as England captain.

England and ex-Wigan coach Shaun Wane said: "Sean O’Loughlin is the most special player I’ve ever coached. I’ve coached great players, but he’s the stand-out.

“Everything I’ve won in my career has been with Lockers by my side – and I don’t think I’d have won as much if he hadn’t been there.

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“And as good as he’s been a player, he’s an even better man. You couldn’t meet anyone more genuine, or more humble.

“What he’s done for Wigan has been outstanding, and I know he’s also been proud and honoured to represent his country, whether England or Great Britain.

“I feel personally wounded for him that his career is ending without a crowd to salute him. He deserves that – but it won’t take away from all he’s achieved.”

He will join the first-team coaching staff, having been assisting the academy for several years.

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Executive director and former team-mate, Kris Radlinski said: “There have been many superlatives mentioned about Sean over the years and all of them are true. He is a wonderful rugby league player and his name on the team sheet inspires his teammates. But it’s his qualities as a human being that I like to remember most.

“His humility and personality have led to him becoming one of the most liked blokes in the changing rooms for nearly two decades. He should be extremely proud of the career that he has constructed.

“He will be remembered alongside Dean Bell, Ellery Hanley and Andy Farrell as one of the club’s great captains. I am excited to start work on the next phase of his career with him as he moves on to the Wigan coaching team.”

Head coach and ex-team-mate, Adrian Lam, said: “When I arrived, one of my first experiences was playing with some legends. But during my time playing here, Sean came through and I knew immediately that he would be here long-term.

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“What he’s done for this club over a long period of time has shaped it into a very successful last ten years.

“He’s potentially the best attacking forward in the world. He’s a great leader. He leads with actions more than words and he’s respected highly by his peers. He’s also a great guy.

“He’s got a great sense of humour; he likes to have a laugh and a joke with everyone and that’s another great thing about him.

“I’ve watched him grow from the young player I knew to the great player he is today; you don’t have too many of these very special one-club players.”