First published in League Express, Monday 5th Aug 2013
Continuing my look at England’s World Cup options, here is my assessment of the loose forwards who I think are good enough to make the squad.
Or perhaps I say ‘loose forward’ as there’s only one on my list!
Sam Burgess is obviously an option here, and we can all remember how well he played in the 2009 Tri-Nations Final against Australia, but I listed him last week as my first-choice second-rower.
So here goes…
SEAN O’LOUGHLIN – Under Michael Maguire and more recently Shaun Wane, he’s brought a lot more to his game and I think many more supporters of the game outside Wigan can appreciate what he does.
He hasn’t always been available to the national side and I’ve sometimes detected that many supporters haven’t been too bothered about him being absent, but if he were to pick up an injury now that ruled him out of the World Cup, there’d be quite a few depressed faces throughout the Rugby League land.
He’s certainly more creative now. He doesn’t just bust the line himself these days, but he can put others away too.
Sean shows plenty of ball skills, whether at first, second or third man, and because of that he’ll be an important cog in the England side.
He’s also a great leader, and while he won’t actually captain England, because of Kevin Sinfield, it’s great that we have quite a few other leaders in the side and I think his seniority will be a big asset to Steve McNamara.
It’s important to let him do what he does best and not have the halfbacks stifle his game, so England must be careful that he, Kevin and Rangi Chase don’t step on each other’s toes if they’re all selected together.
I think there’s now an argument that Sean is Wigan’s best player. Sam Tomkins is the great individual in the team whose talents can be truly spellbinding, but Sean is the glue that holds the team together.
He’s matured even further this year and seems to be hitting top gear at the perfect time.