O'Loughlin itching for England
Wigan captain delighted to be finally playing for England
Last Updated: 12/06/10 7:23pm
O'Loughlin: Relishing England opportunity
Wigan captain Sean O'Loughlin is relishing the opportunity of finally playing for England on Saturday.
The 27-year-old has been dubbed the unluckiest player in rugby league after missing the 2008 World Cup with a shoulder injury.
He then sat out last year's corresponding match against the French with a cut knee and was also forced to pull out of the 2009 Four Nations series after cracking a bone in his thumb during a warm-up game against Wales.
But he has remained injury-free for Saturday's mid-season international with France at Leigh and the Warriors loose forward is desperate to do well and put himself in contention for the trip to Australia and New Zealand at the end of the year.
O'Loughlin, who previously won 11 caps with Great Britain, said: "It's been a while since I've been played at international level so it's something I'm looking forward to.
"I'm proud to be involved. I've missed a few in the past but hopefully I can kick on from this game.
"To play for England is massive. It's reward for all the hard work during the season and to have a mid-season game and the opportunity to pull on an England shirt is fantastic.
"This game is a big step towards the tour in October and you want to impress in these games.
"But there's also quite a bit left in the Super League so you've got to continue playing well and, if you do that, you've got the rewards of the Four Nations at the end."
O'Loughlin is joined in the England squad by Wigan team-mates Sam and Joel Tomkins, who will become the first brothers to feature for their country since David and Paul Hulme played together for Great Britain in 1989.
Half-back Sam forced his way into the England team during last year's Four Nations, while second rower Joel has been one of the form players in the Super League.
O'Loughlin added: "Joel has more than impressed this year with his game time that he's played.
"He's looking forward to stepping up to the plate and I'm sure he'll give a good account of himself.
"It's good that there are new people coming in. With the experience they get from these games, they can kick on in Super League and hopefully that will benefit the squad at the end of the year."
While France have not beaten England in 29 years and were thrashed 64-12 in Paris a year ago, O'Loughlin will not be under-estimating the visitors.
"The French can be a handful if you don't prepare well for them so they will be taken deadly seriously," he said.
"They will have a lot of numbers from Catalans, who we will know a lot about, but after that there are a few unknown quantities who will be a bit of a handful. It's a French side we definitely won't be underestimating."