Wigan Warriors captain Sean O'Loughlin's outstanding displays are winning rave reviews
Last Updated: 22/04/14 3:31pm
Wigan Warriors captain Sean O'Loughlin long since emerged from the shadow of Andy Farrell but he could be set to match another achievement of his famous brother-in-law.
Farrell won the prestigious Man of Steel award in 2004, just before leaving Super League for rugby union, and O'Loughlin is currently the front runner to emulate him after making an outstanding start to the season.
The tough-tackling loose forward has been impressive all year but was showered with praise from all corners for his man-of-the-match performance in the champions' Good Friday derby win at St Helens.
Australian team-mate Blake Green said: "He's a superstar, the best player I've played with."
Man of Steel outright
S O'Loughlin 4/1
L Walsh 6/1
J Roby 8/1
J Lomax 10/1
R Chase 14/1
K Sinfield 16/1
T Makinson 20/1
R Burrow 20/1
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St Helens coach Nathan Brown was equally glowing in his appreciation for the opposing skipper following Saints’ Good Friday loss to Wigan, saying: "Sean O'Loughlin just took us to school.
"He showed why I think he's one of the best players in the world. He's a sensational player. That's why Waney (Wigan coach Shaun Wane) saves him for the big games if his body's not good."
It is a true mark of a great player if the opposing coaches line up to offer their tributes.
Warrington boss Tony Smith singled out O'Loughlin as the main contender for the 2013 Man of Steel award which eventually went to Danny Brough.
O'Loughlin was on a three-man short-list, alongside Jamie Peacock, and it would be highly appropriate if he was to become the first winner of the Steve Prescott Man of Steel award, which has been renamed in memory of the former St Helens full-back who lost his battle with illness last November.
Along with Leeds Rhinos’ Kevin Sinfield and Paul Wellens of St Helens, O'Loughlin will go down as one of the great captains of the modern era.
All three not only set magnificent examples with their deeds on the field, but represent their clubs with dignity through their statesmanlike and ambassadorial qualities.
It is no coincidence that O'Loughlin's current fine form comes during a rare period free of injury. His Easter Monday showing marked the first time for nearly a year that he has played five consecutive games.
O'Loughlin was frequently the butt of light-hearted humour from his team-mates in 2013 when he sat out long periods of the season, only to return for the big games, most notably the Challenge Cup final at Wembley and the Grand Final at Old Trafford.
The loose forward played key roles in both victories as the Warriors became the first club to do the double for seven years, a feat that eluded Farrell, who has kept a close eye on the progress of his brother-in-law over the last 10 years.
The 31-year-old, whose father Keiron was in the Widnes side that beat Wigan in the 1984 Challenge Cup final, kept the loose forward role in the family when Farrell made the move to prop and also inherited the Wigan captaincy, after Kris Radlinski had briefly held the reins, when his brother-in-law left to join Saracens.
O'Loughlin matched Farrell's 11 England caps in November's World Cup semi-final defeat by New Zealand but surely would have doubled that tally but for the amount of time he has required in the treatment room.
He will be hoping to lend his vast experience to Steve McNamara's side in the end-of-year Four Nations Series down under.