Lockers ‘third best loose forward in the world’

Sean O'Loughlin turned 35 during the World Cup
Sean O'Loughlin turned 35 during the World Cup

He may be 35 but Sean O’Loughlin’s star is showing no signs of fading after he was ranked the third best loose-forward in the world.

The Wigan and England skipper was only beaten by two of the sport’s biggest names, Jason Taumalolo – regarded by many as the game’s best forward – and fellow NRL ace Sam Burgess.

O’Loughlin won the World Club Challenge with his hometown club earlier this year and was named in the Super League Dream Team before he led England into World Cup action.

Two Super League players, Leeds’ Kallum Watkins and Huddersfield winger Jermaine McGillvary, are in the World XIII along with their England team-mate, James Graham.

There are eight Australians in the XIII and, interestingly, while there are no New Zealand players, both Fiji (winger Suliasi Vunivalu) and Tonga (ex-Kiwi loose forward Taumalolo) are represented.

The World XIII is published by Rugby League World magazine today. The publication invited 12 rugby league writers, split evenly between the two hemispheres, to nominate five players for each of the nine positions on the field.

The top player in each category was awarded five points, the second four, the third three, and so on.

Both domestic and representative performances were taken into account, with the individual voter choosing how much emphasis to place upon each.

The only other Wigan players to poll any votes were both in the hooker category - for Micky McIlorum and Thomas Leuluai – though neither made the top-five in that position.

Leuluai spent most of the year at half-back for Wigan, but is expected to play more at hooker in 2018 – with McIlorum widely tipped for a move away to Catalans.

World XIII: Slater (Australia); McGillvary (England), Chambers (Australia), Watkins (England), Vunivalu (Fiji); Morgan (Australia), Cronk (Australia); Graham (England), Smith (Australia), Woods (Australia), Cordner (Australia), Gillett (Australia), Taumalolo (Tonga).