Terry O’Connor knows the big stage inside and out when it comes to rugby league.
He made four Grand Final appearances winning the inaugural decider back in 1998 for the Wigan Warriors thanks to a piece of magic from Jason Robinson against Leeds Rhinos.
A member of perhaps the greatest rugby league side ever as well as Wigan conquered all, O’Connor is no doubt an expert in how to win big games, expertise he is no doubt willing to pass on to his son Jarrod this week as Jarrod’s Leeds side prepare for a semi-final clash against his dad’s old side in a repeat of the 1998 Grand Final.
Should Leeds win, both Jarrod and Terry would be set for big roles come Grand Final day as Terry O’Connor will walk out the Betfred Super League trophy at Old Trafford ahead of kick-off in the 25thGrand Final on Saturday 24 September.
During a career spanning sixteen years, O’Connor straddled the switch from Winter to Summer seasons and the formation of Super League. He made over 300 top-flight career appearances, including 248 in Super League.
In addition to Wigan, the powerful prop had spells at Salford and Widnes as well as representing Great Britain on thirteen occasions.
Since his retirement in 2006, O’Connor has become a familiar face and voice on Sky Sports coverage of Super League, with his punditry and commentary as part of their team alongside friend and ex-Leeds Rhinos star Barrie McDermott.
On walking out with the Super League trophy, O’Connor said: “It truly is an honour to be asked to walk out the Super League trophy at Old Trafford.
“Having played in Grand Finals, I know what it means to players who get to walk out on to that pitch; the nerves, the atmosphere, the noise of the crowd – it still gives me goosebumps to think about it now!
“My memories of that first Grand Final in 1998 are still some of the best of my career and as we celebrate 25 years of Grand Finals, whilst it might only be myself walking, I will be representing each and every player who has walked out on that special night at the end of each season and I hope the fans can celebrate them all.
“I was never renowned for my handling ability, so I just hope I don’t drop the trophy!”