England’s captain says the team are aiming high in Australia and know an opening victory over the Kangaroos on Friday would ease their path to the Rugby League World Cup final
Sean O’Loughlin still remembers the events of 5 November 2006 as if it were yesterday. As a fresh-faced 23-year-old Great Britain international, O’Loughlin would have been forgiven for not caring if that night, his first taste of victory against Australia in a 23-12 Tri Nations win in Sydney, would be his last. “Seeing grown men bash each other like that, you don’t forget that,” the England captain says with a laugh. How could you forget it? Whether it was Willie Mason’s “bashing” of Sean Long and Stuart Fielden, Long’s heroics at half-back or the zenith of Gareth Raynor’s career in scoring the match-clinching try, it is not difficult to recall the events of the first British victory on Australian soil since 1992.
But for O’Loughlin, and the sport’s followers, the euphoria still attached to that night is what is essentially the problem for British rugby league. Now 34 and preparing to lead England in his final World Cup, O’Loughlin is still waiting to remember what it feels like to beat the Aussies again.