Sean O'Loughlin : biography
Sean O'Loughlin is an English professional rugby league footballer who captains Wigan of Europe's Super League. A Great Britain and England international representative , and , he has played his entire career to date with Wigan, with whom he captained to 2010's Super League XV Championship and 2011 Challenge Cup.
Sean O'Loughlin was born 24 November 1982 in Wigan, England. O'Loughlin's dad, Keiron, and uncle, Kevin, both played more than 250 games for Wigan in the 1970s. His father Keiron O'Loughlin was an ex-Great Britain player who also featured in the 1983-84 Challenge Cup final for the Widnes side which achieved victory over Wigan. It was the Wigan-based amateur club Wigan St. Patrick's ARLFC which gave Sean his first experience of competitive rugby league. He had already gained international experience as part of the 2001 Great Britain Academy of Australia, a product of the Wigan academy, for whom he started playing in under-19s matches in 2001, and continued to do so in 2002. During his time at the academy, O'Loughlin played in a variety of positions, including a game against Wakefield Trinity in the senior academy championships where he played at scoring two tries, and another against Hull Kingston Rovers where he scored a try playing at .
In 2002, he also featured in two matches during the cross-code Middlesex Sevens tournament, playing at in a team composed of both Wigan and Orrell R.U.F.C. players. Because of this, O'Loughlin remains one of only a handful of rugby league players ever to play at Twickenham, the home of English rugby union, along with those in the St Helens, Bradford and Huddersfield teams who competed in the 2001 and 2006 Challenge Cup finals.
Professional playing career
O'Loughlin made his breakthrough into the Wigan first team under head coach Stuart Raper during 2002's Super League VII. His first experience in the first team came as an substitute wearing jersey No. 22 during Wigan's 18–20 home defeat to Hull. Two weeks later, O'Loughlin scored his first tries for the club as an substitute against Warrington, and subsequently appeared in six consecutive appearances from the bench. He made his first starting appearance for Wigan during a 16–41 away victory against Warrington, when he was called upon to replace his injured brother-in-law, Andy Farrell.
On that night, O'Loughlin played at , which would eventually become his most natural position, but during his first season he played in no less than three positions. After returning from the Middlesex Sevens event where he played , he made another starting appearance against Warrington, this time at . He also started, and scored a try, at against Leeds. However, in general O'Loughlin's first season mostly saw him come into the match as an interchange, starting in only five of the twenty-one appearances he made throughout the whole of the league season. Also in 2002 he was named as captain of the England A squad that faced New Zealand in November and later toured Fiji and Tonga. He made 3 appearances on the tour and was sent off and sin-binned in the same match against Fiji. He was named as captain of the 2003 England A squad to face Australia and in the European Nations Cup. Sean also gained his first senior representative honour when he represented Lancashire in the 2003 Origin match.
O'Loughlin played loose forward for most of 2004 with Andrew Farrell moving to prop forward as cover for injuries. During the season he impressed many people earning himself a new contract and a call up to the Great Britain squad for the first time for the 2004 Tri-Nations series. He made his debut off the bench against Australia and his first full appearance in the following match against New Zealand.
2005 was not a good year for O'Loughlin despite making an impressive start to the season on March 2005 he suffered a serious knee injury that kept him out for the rest of the season. Sean returned to the first team in 2006 and was announced as captain by coach Ian Millward, however he received some criticism from fans for his lack of leadership on the field which was highlighted by Wigan’s poor form at the start of the season. The poor start to the season left Wigan bottom of the Super League and led to the sacking of Ian Millward who was replaced by Brian Noble.
O'Loughlin showed a dramatic improvement under Noble, many people credited Sean for his defensive work and at the end of the season he was Wigan’s top tackler. His performance in 2006 earned him a recall into the Great Britain squad for the mid season international with New Zealand at Knowsley Road, St Helens which Great Britain won. Also at the end of season he was selected in the squad for the 2006 Tri-Nations in Australia, playing in Great Britain's opening defeat to New Zealand but playing an important role in Great Britain's victory over Australia. He missed Great Britain's 34-4 defeat to New Zealand with a muscle strain.
With O'Loughlin's contract expiring at the end of 2006 he was linked with a move to new Australian NRL side Gold Coast for most of the season but in November 2006 he signed a new two deal with Wigan keeping him at the club until 2008. O'Loughlin was forced to rule himself out contention for the England training squad for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup through injury. Likewise he was forced to withdraw from the 2009 Four Nations English squad before the commencement of the series.
The 2010 season saw Sean O'Loughlin noted for his hard work rate, topping most if not all stats. He has been the player of the month twice in 2010 and been in the Super League dream team a record 27 times in total. He was selected to play for England against France in the one-off test, and was seen as a contender for the 2010 Man of Steel Award but missed out on a nomination. However, eventual winner and fellow team-mate Pat Richards paid credit to his contribution upon receiving his nomination.
O'Loughlin captained Wigan in the 2011 Challenge Cup Final at loose forward, helping defeat Leeds 28-18.
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