Wigan Warriors captain Sean O’Loughlin admits he’s undoubtedly surprised to see Leeds Rhinos toiling at the foot of the table – but he has called on his side to keep them firmly rooted there at Magic Weekend.
When the fixtures were churned out for Magic Weekend way back when, a rematch of last year’s Grand Final looked to be one of the most appealing and intriguing of the bunch.
But fast forward six months, and fifth-placed Wigan head to Newcastle looking to inflict more woe on the struggling champions, with victory for the Warriors ensuring Leeds remain bottom of the league.
And O’Loughlin said that he can’t quite believe the lowly position Brian McDermott’s side find themselves in.
“When you look at them now, although I know how disappointed they’ll be with the way they went against Castleford, some of the games they’ve not been a million miles off and have just come out the wrong side.
“When you look at the side you still can’t see how they’re not picking up wins yet.
“You do feel it will just be a matter of time before it all does click for them and they go on a run. We have to make sure we’re not the side that lets them do that.”
Wigan’s mini-slump in form is nowhere near as dramatic as that of the Rhinos, but with two defeats in a row behind them heading into Magic Weekend, O’Loughlin concedes that his side will be “desperate” to get the two points.
“I think both teams will be equally as desperate to get a win,” he revealed.
“We want to do so to stay up near the top end of the table to hopefully still challenge for top spot come the end of the season and Leeds to hopefully kick start their season for them.
“From our point of view we don’t want to be the team to give them the leg up to get that run of form.
“We want to keep them not winning this weekend so we can get our own form back and get the two points ourselves.”
And the Warriors skipper is hoping that the unique surroundings of St James’ Park and the added pressure that comes with Magic Weekend will help his side produce their very best when it matters.
“I do enjoy these games and we’ve had some good results,” he said.
“They are only worth two points but they do have that final feel about them – a big crowd, big stadium – and the boys enjoy that.
“It just puts you under a bit more pressure to play well and we’ve kind of responded to that in the last few years and turned up.”