They haven’t played in the league for over a decade – but Wigan Warriors captain Sean O’Loughlin believes that the ‘battle of the borough’ between the world champions and Leigh Centurions is on par with derby matches against St Helens.
Wigan look to extend their unbeaten start to the season at the DW Stadium on Friday night, while the Centurions look to make it back-to-back wins in Super League following victory against the Saints last Friday.
And O’Loughlin believes that the intensity of the games are right up there with Wigan-Saints fixtures in his eyes.
“It’s great to have Leigh back in Super League and to have this fixture, both teams and towns really look forward to it,” he said.
“I thinks it’s up there with Wigan and Saints, the rivalry is there, it always has been and always will be so to have them back in Super League and to be playing this fixture regularly is massive.
“It’s been a while (since the last meeting), it makes me feel old as well! They’re great games to be involved in. I remember going to watch a cup game in 2002 over at Hilton Park, I was in the first-team squad but wasn’t playing that day and the atmosphere was electric. To have these fixtures back in the calendar is great for Super League.”
O’Loughlin also paid tribute to the Wigan fans after thousands travelled to Widnes at the eleventh hour last week following the chaotic situation surrounding the postponement of the Vikings clash – before it was eventually switched to Widnes.
He said: “The support we got, with over 2,000 people going to the game at such short notice last week was fantastic, we’re really grateful and if we can have the fans supporting us like that again this week it would be great.”