England skipper O'Loughlin bullish ahead of Kiwis decider


Sean O'Loughlin cannot wait to lead England out at his home ground this weekend as Steve McNamara's side go in search of a series victory over New Zealand.

England and Wigan Warriors skipper O'Loughlin was part of the team who lost 9-2 to the Kiwis in London last weekend.

That win for the tourists levelled the three-match series at 1-1 following England's 26-12 victory in the first Test, meaning Saturday's clash at the DW Stadium is a winner-takes-all affair.

O'Loughlin feels England can take heart from their performance at the Olympic Stadium, though, and is determined to clinch the Baskerville Shield in front of his home fans.

"It's disappointing, but there is a lot of confidence from how we hung in there and dug in deep," the 32-year-old told Wigan Today.

"Even at the end, when we were backs against the wall, we still defended reasonably well.

"From my point of view, I can't wait to go back to Wigan. I'm looking forward to it massively.

"I'm looking forward to it on Saturday. Playing the game at Wigan, hopefully captaining the side again and being involved in a win and hopefully a series win."

England coach McNamara has made two changes to his 19-man squad, with O'Loughlin's club-mate Matty Smith and Huddersfield Giants winger Jermaine McGillvary replacing Leroy Cudjoe and Ben Westwood. 

"We have had a great week with our preparation and the players are ready to take on a strong New Zealand side," said McNamara.

"The players are well aware of the importance of the game and the improvements we have to make from our previous matches to give ourselves every chance of beating New Zealand.

"We will have to be at our best to win, but we'll relish the pressure of playing against a quality team in front of a full house at Wigan."

McNamara's opposite number Stephen Kearney, meanwhile, has opted to stick with the same side that pulled visiting side level in the series last weekend.

He explained: "These lads got the job done last week and it was a good performance from them.

"I didn't feel there was a need to change the team."