O’Loughlin may have to wait for comeback

Sean O'Loughlin
Sean O'Loughlin

SEAN O’Loughlin’s long-awaited return to action may be put back another week.

The Warriors captain has not played for more than two months since undergoing knee surgery.

Lockers is probably another week off, we’re maybe looking at the Hull KR game

Shaun Wane

This Thursday’s trip to Wakefield – in front of the Sky Sports cameras – had been pencilled in as his comeback match.

But coach Shaun Wane may keep him on ice an extra week to ensure he is fully recovered.

He said last night: “Lockers is probably another week off, we’re maybe looking at the Hull KR game.”

England skipper O’Loughlin played in the first two games of the season but hasn’t figured since.

Few expect them to have any troubles in overcoming rock-bottom Wakefield without their talisman, given their strong form in recent weeks.

The coach gave his players a long weekend off following a hectic schedule bookending Easter.

Their 30-20 victory over Warrington last Thursday was their fifth game in less than three weeks.

“I always planned on letting them spend some quality time with their families,” said Wane.

“It’s a busy period for the players, they’ve worked hard and it was important to freshen them up a bit, before we go again.”

Wane hasn’t ruled out tinkering with his squad this week, but is leaning towards sticking with the same players who overcame the Wolves in a televised thriller.

Ben Flower does not believe he deserved the standing ovation which greeted his return from suspension on Thursday night.

As his Wigan side beat Warrington 30-20, the Wales forward made his first appearance since he punched St Helens’ Lance Hohaia in the opening moments of last season’s Grand Final, earning a six-month ban.

The 27-year-old, who came on as a substitute in the 23rd minute of Thursday’s match, told the Daily Star Sunday: “I was surprised how calm I was, with everything going through my head about doing the right things.

“But I didn’t expect such a big loud roar and a standing ovation. For the fans to stick by me like that is a credit to them.

“It was lovely for them to do that but at the end of the day I do not deserve that because I let the club down massively.”

Ahead of Flower’s return, coach Shaun Wane had said he wanted to see him come back an even more aggressive player, but Flower said he needed to learn how to manage his emotions.

“I will get back to being a more aggressive player as I get fitter but aggressive does not mean that I am going to be a dirty player,” he said.

“What happened in the Grand Final was a massive mistake.”

WIGAN will discover tonight who they will face first in their quest to reach Wembley.

The draw for the sixth round of the 2015 Ladbrokes Challenge Cup will take place live on Sportsday on the BBC News Channel between 6.30pm and 7.00pm.

The eight winners from this weekend’s fifth round ties will join the top eight First Utility Super League teams from 2014 in the draw to produce eight ties that will be played over the weekend of May 16-17.

The structure of the Challenge Cup was changed this year, giving 2013 Cup winners Wigan – and the other teams who finished in the Super League top-eight last season – one less fixture on their route to Wembley.

The BBC News channel can be viewed on Freeview 130, Freesat 212, Sky 503 and Virgin Media 601.