O'Loughlin relishing derby clash
Wigan captain Sean O'Loughlin is looking forward to a third derby clash in under two months at the Magic Weekend in Manchester.
The Warriors have already beaten St Helens in Super League and knocked them out of the Cup but Paul Wellens' men will have plenty of chances to exact their revenge, starting on Sunday when the clubs bring down the curtain on the Magic Weekend.
The arch-rivals will also meet in the league at the DW Stadium in the last match of the regular season in September and could play each other at least once in the play-offs but O'Loughlin does not believe it amounts to an overkill of the derby fixture.
"No I don't think so," he said. "If you ask any of the fans, they'd probably want us to play each other every week. The boys look forward to playing in these big games, especially at stadiums like this."
The sides met six times in 2011, starting with a 16-16 draw in the Magic Weekend clash in Cardiff and culminating in a play-off defeat for the Warriors, and Wellens admits there could be too many derbies.
"Maybe so," he said. "I've been involved in seasons past where we've played them five or six times and there is an argument that it dilutes the importance of a local derby.
"But, from a player's perspective, when you go out there on the field the intensity will always remain the same because it's a local derby and a big game.
"It's one that everybody wants to win, even if there was nothing at stake."
After staging the Magic Weekend in Cardiff and Edinburgh since introducing the concept in 2007, Super League will break new ground by staging a full round of games in Manchester but Wellens has experienced both heartache and unbelievable drama at the Etihad Stadium.
He was in the Great Britain side that conceded a last-minute try to go down 12-8 to Australia there in 2004 and with his six-year-old son Harry was among the 48,000 crowd for Manchester City's recent Premier League clash with QPR, where the Blues scored two injury-time goals to clinch the title.
"Personally, it's the most dramatic thing I can remember," said Wellens, who is a fervent City fan and season-ticket holder.
"Even before last weekend, I was looking forward to playing at the Etihad. The stadium is fantastic and, with it being in Manchester, the event is accessible to the fans.
"It's a lot more central to the rugby league heartland. I think it all makes for a fantastic weekend."
O'Loughlin is also excited about running out at the old Commonwealth Games stadium, despite being a Manchester United fan.
"I support United but I'll still enjoy the chance to play here," he said.