2nd March 2017, 10:42 | Wigan

Wigan skipper O'Loughlin ready for familiar faces in Leigh derby

Wigan skipper O'Loughlin ready for familiar faces in Leigh derby

Wigan Warriors captain Sean O'Loughlin has welcomed the return of the derby with Leigh Centurions as the DW Stadium prepares to host an invasion of former players.

The Centurions, who pulled off their first win of the season against St Helens last Friday, include no fewer than seven players with Wigan connections in their 19-man squad.

They are seeking their first win over the reigning Betfred Super League champions since a 24-10 Slalom Lager Championship victory at Hilton Park in September, 1984.

Wigan have won the last 18 meetings since then, including a 62-6 rout in Leigh's only previous Super League campaign in 2005, when current Centurions forwards Harrison Hansen and Danny Tickle were alongside O'Loughlin in the home pack that day.

Micky Higham, Gareth Hock and Ryan Hampshire are also ex-Wigan players while Jamie Acton and Sam Hopkins spent time at the club without reaching first-team level.

"There's a lot of blokes there who have been at this club and know what Wigan is about," O'Loughlin said.

"Watching them get turned over by Cas (Castleford Tigers) in that opening game, I think everyone felt there was more in them and the win at the weekend showed what they are capable of.

"We know it will be a real tough game.

"It's great to have Leigh back in Super League and to have this fixture. I think the rivalry is up there with Wigan and Saints. They're great games to be involved in." 

Wigan, who are set to give a debut to either Liam Marshall or Liam Forsyth in place of the injured Oliver Gildart, are aiming to maintain their 100 per cent start to the season while St Helens will be looking to get back to winning ways when they host Wakefield Trinity at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

"Full credit to Leigh," said Saints hooker James Roby. "They were always going to get that first Super League win and unluckily for us we were on the end of it.

"We know we can improve and we need to be a lot better than we were."

Wakefield are one of three teams without a win so far and they have not won at St Helens since 2009 but Roby says the Yorkshire club will be treated with respect.

"There are no easy games," he said. "Any time you turn up with the wrong attitude, you can get turned over. We'll be up for a big game on Friday night, back at home and coming off the back of that loss at Leigh adds a bit extra motivation."

The 31-year-old Roby has started both of his side's matches on the bench, with coach Keiron Cunningham preferring to start with new signing Tommy Lee, but the England international insists he remains capable of producing 80-minute performances if required.

"I think I'm still capable of it but I'll do the right thing for the team," Roby said. "Playing 20 minutes less every week saves my body a little bit and that might add up towards the end of the year."

St Helens, without full-back Jonny Lomax and front rower Luke Douglas, are set to give debuts to forwards Adam Walker and Zeb Ta'ia, who arrived this week as part of a swap deal with Gold Coast Titans involving Joe Greenwood.