English war-horse Sean O’Loughlin has been hailed “impressive” ahead of today’s opening Test in Hull.
New Zealand prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves has clashed with the loose forward (right) several times over the years.
O’Loughlin turns 36 next month but remains a key figure in the England side, and will lead out Wayne Bennett’s outfit this afternoon (kick-off 2.30pm). Sydney Roosters prop Waerea-Hargreaves said: “To see that guy keep going around, it’s pretty impressive. I’ve the utmost respect for him.
“I remember playing against him in 2009, 2011... and he’s been around a while, and he’s still turning up.
“We trained at Wigan and to see the ‘SOL 400’ signs up around their dressing room.”
Former Wigan coach Michael Maguire is in charge of New Zealand and he has already made an impact on Waerea-Hargreaves.
“Madge has been massive, I got the experience in Denver and in short amount of time you knew the angles he was coming in from,” he said.
“He’s very black and white, very honest and I’m excited to play underneath.
“We’ve been in camp for more than two weeks, we’ve got training camps and now it’s crunch time – this is why we’re here, to play footy, not to have training camps.”
As well as clashing with O’Loughlin on the Test stage, Waerea-Hargreaves also faced him in the 2014 World Club Challenge.
And they are on course for another showdown for the WCC silverware in early February, either in Sydney or Wigan. The two clubs have already held talks, with Warriors owner Ian Lenagan hoping the Australian premiers will fly to England for the annual showcase match.
“The World Club games are great, the best against the best, and it’ll be good to have the opportunity to go again,” said Waerea-Hargreaves.
“Tommy Leuluai was one of my first Kiwi room-mates, it’d be good to face him again.
“He’s been around – he definitely knows how to use his shoulders!
The NRL has outlined ambitious plans to stage the World Club Challenge in America or Singapore in 2020 or beyond.
The NRL says a future WCC could be moved to neutral ground “to assess the feasibility of taking a premiership match to the United States”.
NRL chief commercial officer Andrew Abdo said: “We will continue to look at not just America but other ways we can continue to innovate that has a benefit to our fans locally and abroad.
“The World Club Challenge, for example, is something we want to think about strategically in terms of where it is played, when it is played and how it is viewed.”