It may not have been the start to the season that Sean O’Loughlin had hoped for, but the Wigan captain is convinced a derby-day clash against high-flying St Helens is the perfect ingredient to kickstart their season.
The Warriors have experienced a below-par start to-date, winning just three of their opening ten Super League fixtures, while in comparison – St Helens sit top of the pile with nine wins.
O’Loughlin believes Wigan versus St Helens is the Super League’s biggest and fiercest rivalry and is convinced an opportunity to lock horns with their neighbours will provide the catalyst for a change of fortunes.
Wigan may have a had a difficult start to the season, but according to O’Loughlin the form book goes out the window in a derby game.
“We know we’ve got a tough one this week, but we are looking forward to the challenge,” he said.
“Obviously we are going into it as underdogs this week as Saints are playing very well and we are coming off the back of a couple of losses.
“The atmosphere is what makes the games I think. It’s normally a key moment in the season as well, a win in it can really propel your season if you have a good performance.
“The game’s themselves are just awesome to be a part of.
“What the fans bring to the game is massive for us. Form can go out of the window when you can ride that emotional side of things.
“Fans want to win just as much as players, so with them getting down in numbers and giving us support, it definitely adds to the performance of the players and gets five or ten per cent more out of everyone.
“Normally over the Easter period people are off work, enjoying the holiday spirit and this game can hopefully kickstart that for everybody. Getting a win is a big part of that enjoyment.”
O’Loughlin made his Wigan debut in 2002 and has gone to make over 400 appearances for the Warriors – and so he knows a thing or two about how to get one over on St Helens.
And the Great Britain international is hoping to use the inspiration of famous wins in recent years to get Wigan firing when it matters most this weekend.
“Of my favourite wins – the one in 2003 where we had a really young side sticks out,” he added. “That was a big one. A lot of the lads that I’d played though the academy with played alongside us in that game.
“It was lads who weren’t in the first-team who had to step up because there was so many injuries, it was so big because we were such underdogs.
“Another was 2011 when we won it right on the buzzer, right at the death. That was the game where Faz (Liam Farrell) scored right in front of the home end. That was another memorable one, just because the manner in which we won it.
“That was another that was special, but they are all pretty special when you win them.”
Wigan Warriors take on St Helens in the fiercest rivalry in rugby league at the DW Stadium on Friday April 19th, kick-off 3pm. Secure your seat today by calling the DW Stadium ticket office on 01942 311111 or by visiting https://wiganwarriors.com/tickets.
By Sebastian Clayton