O’Loughlin’s chance to refocus

Sean O'Loughlin
Sean O'Loughlin

SEAN O’Loughlin is itching to get back on the field to dilute the pain of the year’s Grand Final defeat.

The England captain will lead his country against France at Leigh Sports Village on Saturday, with four Warriors’ team-mates also in the squad.

Whichever side they sent this year, it’s a good chance for us to get a series win.

Sean O’Loughlin

John Bateman, Joe Burgess and George Williams could all make their England debuts, while Liam Farrell completes the club’s representation.

And ahead of their three-match Test Series against New Zealand, O’Loughlin believes this is a perfect chance to realign their focus after Wigan’s loss at Old Trafford.

“We had a couple days off after the Grand Final, and this is a nice distraction,” said O’Loughlin.

“When you lose a final, the first thing you want to do is play again, and this gives us a chance to do that.

“Most of the squad has been together for a while so it’s quite easy to knit together, and everyone is now focused on England.”

Warriors’ scrum-half Matty Smith has not been named in Saturday’s squad, while Sam Tomkins hasn’t fully recovered from a knee injury.

O’Loughlin is one of just three surviving members (with James Roby and James Graham) from the triumphant national squad which beat New Zealand 3-0 in 2007 - the last series under the Great Britain banner.

Like then, this current Kiwi squad has been rocked by a string of high-profile withdrawals including Shaun Johnson, Keiron Foran and captain Simon Mannering. Thomas Leuluai and Benji Marshall also miss out for the Tests in Hull, London and Wigan on successive weekends from November 1.

“We can’t concern ourselves about who has or who hasn’t come over,” added O’Loughlin. “Whichever side they sent this year, it’s a good chance for us to get a series win.

“The fact it’s at home, we have to use it to our advantage. When you go Down Under the rub of the green tends to go against you, you’ve got the travel to contend with is well, but now it’s all in our favour and it’s time for us to deliver.”