We take a look at what’s being said and team news as Wigan Warriors and Hull FC prepare to face off for a place in the Super League Grand Final…
O’Loughlin earns Lam plaudits
When Adrian Lam and Wigan lifted the Challenge Cup in 2002, a teenager with barely a handful of first-team appearances under his belt by the name of Sean O’Loughlin was 18th man for the final at Murrayfield.
Fast forward to the present day and Lam will be overseeing potentially the final two matches of O’Loughlin’s career after the loose forward announced his decision to retire from playing at the end of the current Super League season.
Wigan Warriors vs Hull FC
November 19, 2020, 7:00pm
The first of those comes on Thursday evening when Wigan face Hull FC for a play in the Super League Grand Final and Lam is delighted to be in charge as the 37-year-old, who will join the club’s coaching staff for next year, aims to bow out with one more title added to his collection.
“He was 18th man for the Challenge Cup team I played in up in Edinburgh that we won, so from seeing him being 18th man as an 18-year-old to coming to the end of his career at Wigan and being here as coach and seeing him out is a highlight for me,” Lam said.
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“It’s been quite ironic it’s turned out this way, but he’s had a lot of great times in between and I’ve watched him every year grow. But even from the time when he made his debut as an 18-year-old, I knew there was something special there.
“He’s everything this club is all about; he’s hard-working, he gets in early, he does his extras, he leaves no stone unturned and his preparation is first class.
“In his own spare time, he’s invested time in coaching our scholarship and he does everything. As a club, we’re fortunate to have had him in our lives at some point.”
O’Loughlin’s 2020 campaign has been disrupted by injury, but the Wigan captain has been named in Lam’s 21-man squad for the clash with Hull at the DW Stadium as they aim to reach the Grand Final for the 11th time.
Influential hooker Sam Powell, however, has been ruled out due to injury so Amir Bourouh comes into the squad in his place.
Sneyd wants to prove doubters wrong again
After defying the naysayers in last week’s first-round play-off match against Warrington Wolves, Hull half-back Marc Sneyd is setting his sights on another upset when they face Wigan.
The Black and Whites belied their status as the sixth-placed team in the competition on the percentage-adjusted table, overcoming the Wolves 27-14 to set up a semi-final showdown with the League Leaders’ Shield winners.
Hull were beaten 36-4 when the sides met in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals two months ago, but Sneyd insists that will have no bearing on the match as they arrive at the DW Stadium on the back of four straight wins.
“We’re a different team now,” Sneyd, who was man of the match against the Wolves, said. “We’re doing things 10 times better than we did that day.
“It’s always enjoyable when you can look someone in the face when they’ve said something not true, shall we say. Everybody enjoys doing that.
“We talk about getting up there [to the Grand Final] and challenging for it every single year but, for whatever reason, we always tail off.
“When it [the play-offs] went to a six, we saw that as our opportunity to turn what has been a pretty mediocre season into what could be history and we got over the first hurdle.”
Hull interim head coach Andy Last has added Jack Brown to the squad which won at Warrington last week, while he has been handed a further boost with the news Carlos Tuimavave has recovered from the injury he suffered in that game.
“I’m rubbing my hands together because it’s Wigan who like to play aggressive against Hull, who are a big but big mobile unit, and then the game of chess between the decision-makers Marc Sneyd and Tommy Leuluai will be enthralling to watch.”
– Former Super League winner and Sky Sports rugby league expert Barrie McDermott
Barrie’s prediction: Wigan to win.
Wigan Warriors: Zak Hardaker, Chris Hankinson, Oliver Gildart, Joe Burgess, Bevan French, Tommy Leuluai, Tony Clubb, George Burgess, Willie Isa, Liam Farrell, Sean O’Loughlin, Ben Flower, Morgan Smithies, Oliver Partington, Joe Bullock, Liam Byrne, Jake Bibby, Harry Smith, Jackson Hastings, Amir Bourouh, Brad Singleton.
Hull FC: Bureta Faraimo, Carlos Tuimavave, Josh Griffin, Jake Connor, Marc Sneyd, Scott Taylor, Danny Houghton, Chris Satae, Manu Ma’u, Ligi Sao, Joe Cator, Jordan Johnstone, Brad Fash, Jordan Lane, Josh Bowden, Andre Savelio, Mahe Fonua, Jack Brown, Cameron Scott, Ratu Naulago, Ben McNamara.
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