SHAUN Wane last night spoke of his pride after seven Wigan players were selected for England’s Four Nations squad - including new national captain Sean O’Loughlin.
On the same weekend he guided his club into a Grand Final, O’Loughlin was told he would get the honour of leading his country Down Under.
Teenage winger Joe Burgess and centre Dan Sarginson have also made the squad and Joel Tomkins is recalled just months after returning from rugby union.
Josh Charnley, Matty Smith and Liam Farrell complete the Wigan contingent.
But there is no place for hooker Mike McIlorum as he needs knee surgery at the end of the season.
Wane said: “I’m really pleased we’ve got seven in there.
“It’s really good effort, when you think there are quality teams out there like St Helens who’ve not had any players picked.
“I’m pleased for Budgie and Sarge, while I voiced my opinion about Lockers a while ago – he was the best man for the job to lead the side.”
McIlorum, meanwhile, was to undergo a scan today to discover the extent of a facial injury suffered in last Friday’s semi-final victory over Warrington but Wane was “confident he’ll be alright” for Saturday’s Grand Final.
O’Loughlin replaces Leeds Rhinos Kevin Sinfield after his international retirement earlier this summer. He got the nod ahead of former Test skipper James Graham.
The European-based players will leave England on Tuesday October 14 en route to their pre-tournament camp on the Gold Coast, Queensland.
England start their Four Nations campaign on Saturday October 25 when they take on Samoa at the Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane (7am BST).
They also face New Zealand and Australia, with the two highest-ranked sides qualifying for the final.
Meanwhile, the prospect of Wigan coming up against ex-boss Michael Maguire’s Souths were raised yesterday when they won the NRL Grand Final.
They beat Canterbury Bulldogs 30-6, booking their place in the World Club Challenge - meaning they will face the winners of Saturday’s Super League Grand Final between Wigan and St Helens.
“I’m really chuffed for Madge,” said Wane. “It’d be nice to come up against him but we’ve got a massive challenge first. Saints are a very good team who will be playing out of their skin on Saturday – and so will we.”
If Wigan don’t win Saturday’s Grand Final, they will play an exhibition game against an invited NRL team.
Wigan fans began queueing in the early hours of Saturday morning to snap up their tickets.
Both teams will be at Old Trafford later today for the official media launch.