Wigan captain Sean O’Loughlin is preparing for his third Challenge Cup final, but for quite a few of his teammates Saturday will be their first taste of the tournament’s showpiece event.
As you would expect from the on-pitch embodiment of head coach Shaun Wane, ‘Lockers’ has got some sound advice for his fellow Warriors.
The 29-year-old said, “When you get to a final I think it’s important that you keep your routine, but also that you savour the occasion.
“While you don’t want to be enjoying it too much, it’s not all about the rugby and your overall preparation has to include enjoying all the build-up.”
When asked if there are any nerves in the camp, the England international had this to say:
“The journey of getting to the final is proof that we deserve to be there, Wembley is a daunting stage but we know we belong on it.
“We’ve got a great squad at the moment and the blend of players all compliment each other well, so we are confident.”
O’Loughlin also added that the play-offs are still Wigan’s priority, and that after Saturday they will re-focus immediately.
“Due to it’s history, the Challenge Cup final is probably a bigger occasion than the Grand Final, but as soon as it’s over – win or lose – it’s all about the play-offs again.
“The Challenge Cup is a special competition, especially to Wiganers and every lad in the squad wants to play in the game.
“Obviously some won’t be involved which is unfortunate, but that being said we’ve got a lot of youngsters coming through, and this weekend will be valuable to their development – even if they don’t get on the pitch.”