Ahead of his final game of Rugby League, Wigan legend Sean O’Loughlin catches up with brother-in-law Andy Farrell, nephew Owen Farrell and former team-mate Terry O’Connor as he looks back on his career.
The former England skipper, who turned 38 on Tuesday, will make his 459th and final appearance for his hometown club in Friday’s Grand Final against St Helens at the KCOM Stadium.
O’Loughlin hopes to bow out on a high with a fifth Super League ring from his eighth Grand Final appearance and Andy Farrell says it’s been an incredible journey for the boy he used to babysit.
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“The first time I met Sean he was seven years old, I was 14 and his sister and I were continuously babysitting him – rugby was not even on the agenda then,” said the Ireland coach.
“But 19 years at the top with a club like Wigan – you dream of playing for your hometown club; you also dream of being a one-club man as well. With a club like Wigan steeped in their rugby league history, it is a dream to play for that club but to do that for 19 years in the professional era is certainly unprecedented.
“There is no better way for Sean to finish off his career in a Grand Final against Wigan’s arch-rivals St Helens.”
Owen grew up watching his dad and uncle play for the Warriors and believes being around them not only helped to keep him grounded, but also helped him become the player he is today.
“It was normal – I didn’t know any different, obviously the first games I went and watched my dad was playing in and then Sean was coming through, it just seemed normal.
“The biggest thing was being around it and seeing it first hand. Half of it is not even conscious – it’s just taking it in as you are growing up. Seeing how people prepare and how hard people work.
“I was lucky enough to be around that Wigan team that my Dad and Sean played in when I was growing up and I would have learnt more from that without even knowing.
“The only person who I didn’t learn anything from was you, Tez.”
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O’Loughlin led his team out in front of a 15,000 crowd at the DW Stadium on the last weekend of January but his entrance for his farewell match will be witnessed by a handful of officials and media at the KCOM Stadium in Hull, but he will be getting plenty of support from his family.
Sean O’Loughlin, Wigan legend. ❤️
One more to go. 🏆#GrandFinal #NeverGonnaStop 🍒⚪️ #WWRL pic.twitter.com/xrfw0LrRQ8
Owen will be heading down to Llanelli for their Autumn Nations Cup clash against Wales but is expecting to be there way before kick-off and for all the England team to be tuning in.
While Andy, who is preparing Ireland for Sunday’s clash against Georgia, says there are some perks to being the boss: “Now I am the coach, I am in charge of the schedule, so we will fit our training around it. We would have done our captains run and have the afternoon off – all the Irish lads watch it, they love it.”
Andy also revealed what Sean’s sister Colleen is like when she watches her brother play.
“She’s horrendous. She’s screaming and shouting ‘get off him, get off him’ – he’s still her little brother. She will be as nervous as anyone.
“It’s worse for family – everyone always asks me about watching Owen – when you are coaching or been involved in professional sport like we have, it’s work. But your loved ones are desperate for you to do well, even more so than the team.”
Leadership is ingrained into the family – Andy captained both club and country for over eight years, while Owen is captain of England. However, both agree that if they were in the Wigan changing room on Friday, there would not be much to say to Sean O’Loughlin.
“I mean we don’t really have to say anything to him – he’s been at the top for 19 years and he knows how to deal with these occasions,” said Andy.
“We all know that to perform at the level you expect too, that the only thing you need to be is yourself.”
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