HULL FC’S Joe Westerman is ready for the challenge of silencing Sean O’Loughlin at Wembley, writes Dave Craven.
The influential Wigan Warriors captain has been passed fit for today’s Challenge Cup final after missing the last two games with a calf injury.
It means Westerman, a former Super League ‘Young Player of the Year’, will be going up directly against the renowned England international at loose-forward in a battle that could set the tone for what is to come.
“Lockers is a great player and a great leader,” admitted the 23-year-old.
“He’s shown that in England colours and for Wigan. They’ve a squad full of great players but so have we.
“On the day, you’re playing against each other and you want to play better than your opposite number.
“That’s what I’m aiming to do and we’ll have 17 out there ready to do that to win this game.”
It will be Westerman’s first major showpiece, justifying his decision to make a big-money move from home-town Castleford Tigers three years ago.
“As kids, we all dreamed about this,” he added. “These are the games you want to play in.
“I’ve never even been to Wembley so to play there is brilliant and what better team to be facing than Wigan?
“With all the fans we’ll take, all the supporters Wigan will have, I can’t think of a better occasion to be involved in.”
Westerman insisted he has tried to keep things simple in the build-up as he prepares for the enormity of the event.
“It is the biggest game I’ve ever played in so it will be massive,” he said.
“There’ll be some nerves and the semi against Warrington was the most nervous I’d ever been.
“Now, with 70,000 fans at Wembley, you’d be lying if you said there wouldn’t be any nerves on Saturday.
“But it soon goes once you take that first ball in or make your first tackle and I’ve just tried to do the same things as normal.
“The big thing for me is to try and take it all in and not let the game pass me by so, when I get asked in a few years, I don’t have to say I can’t really remember.
“I just want to savour it all and help Hull get this trophy. The mood in the camp’s great. There’s no reason why we can’t.
“We’ve had a tough run in the Cup, starting with a hard game against Wakefield and then having to go to France to beat Catalan.
“That was a real tough quarter-final before, of course, Warrington proved really difficult in the semi, too.
”That was a massive game for our confidence but we’ve learned a lot throughout this Challenge Cup.
“Now we’re just looking to finish it all off in this last 80 minutes.
“I’m enjoying my rugby at the minute and feel like I’m improving. I want to do so again against Wigan.”