SEAN O’Loughlin is poised to end his three-month injury lay-off.
The Warriors captain is in the frame to face Castleford at the DW Stadium this Friday night, Shaun Wane confirmed last night.
He plays like he’s in three positions – he does his work in the middle, hits the ball up like a front-rower and he can ball-play as wellShaun Wane
O’Loughlin injured his knee in the second game of the season, against Huddersfield on February 13.
He needed surgery and hasn’t played since. Wane admits his absence has dragged on longer than expected, but is looking forward to welcoming him back to his squad, possibly at the expense of Tony Clubb.
Wane said: “Lockers has trained with us and trained well, so provided he’s no problems between now and the end of the week he’ll be playing against Castleford.
“It’s taken a bit longer than we expected to get him back, but we wanted to make sure he was fully fit, and we’re looking forward to seeing him out there again. He adds a lot to our side, as everyone knows. He plays like he’s in three positions – he does his work in the middle, hits the ball up like a front-rower and he can ball-play as well, which gives us more options and takes the pressure off Matty Smith and George Williams in the halves.”
O’Loughlin, who has sat out a total of 12 matches this term, has been a major influence on the Wigan side throughout his career.
In 2013, he was shortlisted for the Man of Steel award despite playing just 21 of their 35 matches. And last season, he was named England captain for their Four Nations tour Down Under.
The 32-year-old could replace Clubb in the squad which beat Hull KR by 60-0 on Friday night.
The in-form prop limped off in the first-half with a knee injury.
“He’s had a scan, there’s nothing major but there’s some swelling there,” said Wane.
“We’ll know more in a few days but he’s likely to be out for a couple of weeks.” Wane also has the option of bringing Lee Mossop back into the frame after he sat-out last Friday’s game.
“It’s good having so much competition, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we’ve seen some better performances since we’ve had more players back putting pressure on the spots,” added Wane.
Forward Greg Burke – who is on a season-long loan at Hull KR – also left Friday’s action early.
He suffered a fractured ankle but Wane said the injury was not as bad as first feared.