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WIGAN captain Sean O’Loughlin is hoping for a fairytale ending for coach Shaun Wane and his departing teammates tomorrow but warns that emotion will only take the team so far.
Tomorrow’s Grand Final at Old Trafford will bring down the curtain on the Wigan careers of Sam Tomkins, Ryan Sutton and John Bateman, as well as the brains trust on the backroom staff, and O’Loughlin says victory over Warrington would provide a fitting farewell.
“We used the emotional ties to get us here, the fact that lads are leaving and staff are leaving,” he said.
“But we’ve spoken about the fact that doesn’t give us any right to it and also that emotion can only get us so far, it’s about performance.
“As much as we try to use the emotion to get more out of everyone, we’re also realistic to know that it’s what goes on between the white lines that will get the result and hopefully make it a fairytale ending.
“Waney is leaving on his terms and hopefully in glory. For the work he’s done here as a player and coach, long before he was involved with the first team, he has been a massive servant to the club and deserves to go out on a high.”
O’Loughlin has appeared in seven of Wigan’s nine previous Grand Finals and is hoping for a fourth winners’ ring, which would make up for a barren year in 2017.
“Since 2010, we’ve been a part of more finals than not,” he said. “We’ve been a regular fixture at the Challenge Cup final or Grand Final, it’s kind of expected of us.
“But last year, even though we won the World Club Challenge, the way we fizzled out and didn’t finish the season well, meant there was a lot of pressure going into this year.
“When you’ve won trophies and have a season like we did last year, it makes everyone a little bit more hungry to get out there and get the job done the following season.
“We’re not been involved in the Challenge Cup final this year and not won the League Leaders, so this is what it comes down to, it’s our chance to win something.
“Warrington are in a similar boat, they’ve not had any silverware so it’s two teams desperate to win and when you’ve got that, you always expect a tough, physical game.”
O’Loughlin, who turns 36 in November, will go into tomorrow’s game without a contract signed for 2019 but he intends to play on — “I’m just sorting it at the minute” — and veteran scrum-half Thomas Leuluai has also announced he will take up the option on his contract for next season.
“I’ll play next year,” said the 33-year-old former New Zealand international. “It was more to see how I go this year.
“If the body felt right I’d go around if I was playing well enough and I’m happy to keep going.
“I’m lucky I’ve been able to play this game for so long and we’ll see how it goes, as long as I’m still enjoying it and contributing to the team.”
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