7th September 2017, 11:52 | Wigan

O'Loughlin rules out Challenge Cup revenge mission for Wigan

O'Loughlin rules out Challenge Cup revenge mission for Wigan

Wigan Warriors captain Sean O'Loughlin says his team are too focused on the league to worry about revenge when they meet Hull FC in a Wembley rematch.

The champions' 18-14 Ladbrokes Challenge Cup final defeat is still fresh in the memory but O'Loughlin is concentrating on the future and his side's play-off semi-final prospects, which will go on the line at the KCOM Stadium on Friday night.

Wigan's thrilling derby win over St Helens last Friday kept their Betfred Super League Grand Final hopes alive and they will climb into the top four for the first time since April with victory over Lee Radford's men.

That would amount to payback for their Wembley loss, not that O'Loughlin sees it that way.

"They deservedly won the game but, to be honest, I don't think you look at it too much like that," he said. "No matter who will play now, it's more about us winning that game to get to a Grand Final, not about getting one over on them for the Challenge Cup.

"We feel we have to win every game from now until the end of the season. We know mathematically that might not be the case but we think if we do that, we're going to be in a semi come the end of the season.

"Going to Hull any time, whatever the circumstances, is tough, but every week now will be like a final."

Hull, who have lost back-to-back Super 8s fixtures, have been dealt a further blow in their pursuit of the double with the loss of skipper Gareth Ellis to suspension.

"It's a loss for them," O'Loughlin said. "Gaz is a quality player who has a big impact on what they do and he had a top game against us in the Challenge Cup final.

"It's probably a bonus for us but they've got some boys who can come in and do a job for them."

Second-placed Leeds Rhinos can secure a home semi-final with two rounds to spare but only if they end a seven-match losing run at the hands of table-toppers Castleford Tigers.

Three of those defeats have come this year, including a 66-10 rout at the Jungle in March, but the Rhinos have put themselves within touching distance of a home semi with eight wins from their last 11 league games and coach Brian McDermott believes they can go on and win at Old Trafford.

"I think we've got a really good chance of getting there and winning for sure," he said. "But so have Cas. Cas are really good, Cas are scarily good. They've got that momentum behind them. I think they've got that winning habit so, even in games where they're struggling, they can pull some stuff out."

Castleford coach Daryl Powell has recalled England second rower Mike McMeeken for his 100th Super League appearance after resting him for the game at Huddersfield Giants and says his squad depth will help avoid the danger of complacency during the run-in.

"We have a real competition for places now as our boys look towards the semi-final," Powell said. "The boys want to be in the team that plays in that match and, if that's not going to get the best out of people, then I'll be checking for pulses.

"We'll have no problem having a motivated team taking to the field for these last three Super 8s games. From now on in, I won't be making many changes. We have three games left now to get ourselves fine-tuned and toughened up."