O'Loughlin ready for battle
Sean O'Loughlin is ready to take the place of Sam Burgess and do his bit to help England reach the knockout stages of the World Cup.
The Wigan loose forward will be a straight replacement for the suspended Burgess against Ireland at Huddersfield on Saturday as long as he proves his fitness by Thursday when coach Steve McNamara names his 19-man squad.
O'Loughlin's only matches for his double-winning club in the past two months of the season have been at Wembley and Old Trafford because of a series of injuries and that has led to ribbing from his England team-mates about only appearing in finals.
"It would be good to get out and play in a game that isn't a final to be honest and lose the reputation of just picking big games," O'Loughlin said at England's training camp at Loughborough University.
"It's been the best two months of my playing career, winning the Challenge Cup and the Grand Final, it's just frustrating that I wasn't as involved as I wanted to be.
"I did minimal work with the lads on the field before the Australia game so I was never really in contention for it.
"I will train with the lads as normal this week. I've done all my fitness testing with the staff, who have got me to a point where I'm good to go."
The tough-tackling O'Loughlin is desperate to play a major role in the World Cup, especially after missing the last one in 2008 with a broken shoulder and sitting out last Saturday's opening 28-20 defeat by Australia.
"I was gutted not to be part of the team in 2008," he said. "Thankfully I've got back for this one and I'm just looking forward now to being involved.
"It was frustrating on Saturday. Sitting back and watching, you realise the momentum the World Cup has got and how well supported the matches are.
"I'm looking forward to getting back to playing regular week in, week out games. It will probably take me a couple of games to get back up to 100 per cent match fitness but my body feels good. I feel like I've come off a bit of an off season really."
O'Loughlin is set to face an Ireland side containing his former Wigan team-mates Pat Richards, Eamon O'Carroll, Dave Allen and Bob Beswick who will be playing for their lives following Monday's 32-14 defeat by Fiji.
Ireland were one of only three teams not to play a warm-up match and O'Loughlin admits they will be better for the outing.
"I think they will probably be a bit disappointed," he said. "They will feel they could have done better, they probably feel there's a bit more in them. They will maybe throw a bit more at us than they did against the Fijiians."
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