O’Loughlin trains with club and country... in one day

Sean O'Loughlin during the World Club Challenge
Sean O'Loughlin during the World Club Challenge
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Sean O’Loughlin was careful to avoid any tongue-twisters after training for both his club and country yesterday!

He was back in the international fold yesterday as one of 27 players who met for the first of six training sessions under England assistant coaches Paul Anderson and Paul Sculthorpe leading up to the World Cup.

O’Loughlin and his Wigan team-mates went straight from the field at Hopwood Hall College, near Manchester, to their Warriors base in Orrell for an afternoon session with his club to prepare for Friday’s derby against Leigh.

And the 34-year-old found value in the England get-together - not least brushing up on the team moves.

“It was enjoyable being back involved, and getting used to the calls again,” he said.

“It was good to run through the plays, because some plays have two different names.

“If you ask me, I know what it is, but getting it on the tip of your tongue when you’re in play, is completely different.

“If I call any England calls at Wigan I get hammered for it!

“The staff are making sure we get the right quality without upsetting the clubs.

“During the season, it’s different getting together because you may be playing someone next week, or had a battle with someone the previous week, but most of this group has been together for a long time and we all know each other quite well.”

O’Loughlin captained England to a series triumph against New Zealand in 2015 but missed last year’s Four Nations, having played just once – in the Grand Final – since the start of August.

He is keen to play in the May Test against Samoa in Sydney, as part of Wayne Bennett’s preparations for the World Cup at the end of the year.

“There’s a real hunger to be a part of it - more so with the World Cup, everyone wants to be involved,” said O’Loughlin.

“Watching the Four Nations was quite tough, it was the first time I’ve watched and not been on crutches, but I’d just not played enough games at the end of the season.

“I was invited to the game against the Aussies, with the team, and was involved in the meetings during the year.”

O’Loughlin said Bennett has not informed him whether he will captain England in the future - he was initially kept on as skipper when the Brisbane boss took over.

“And I’ve genuinely not given it a second thought,” he said. “If I’m involved as captain, brilliant, but if not then it wouldn’t take anything away from being back in the set-up and playing for England.”

His Wigan team-mates George Williams, Liam Farrell, Joe Burgess and John Bateman were involved. Injured Sam Tomkins is also in the elite squad.

And O’Loughlin hopes the recent World Club Series victories for Wigan and Warrington will swell their confidence ahead of the World Cup Down Under at the end of his year.

“We can’t judge our whole competition on those games but both teams went in with the attitude of wanting to play the game, and we have respect for the opposition but we’re not in awe of them,” he said.

“With England, we’ve shown we’re more than capable, it’s the belief to do it.

“From a Wigan point of view, some of those players haven’t played against Australia before and sometimes there’s the mental pedestal you put them on, and so for them to be involved and win (the World Club Challenge) is massive, because some of those young kids may be in the England set-up in the not-too-distant future.

“It gives them that confidence they can do it.”