After four months out on the sidelines, Liam Farrell returns for Wigan tonight – and he admits the pain of missing some of their biggest games of the season so far is all the motivation he needs to help the club go one better than recent years in 2016.
Defeat in the Challenge Cup to Hull a fortnight ago – which Farrell was forced to watch from the stands as he neared the closing stages of his recovery from a rib injury – ended any chance Wigan had of the treble this year: but the England international is now aiming to win the two remaining prizes on offer.
That all starts tonight as Wigan aim to keep up the pressure at the top of Super League with victory against Castleford, and Farrell told TotalRL that he can’t wait to pull the cherry and white shirt on once again.
“It’s been great to be back. I’ve done a couple of weeks of training with the lads, everything has gone alright and it’s good to be back out there.
“Castleford are in a bit of a struggle and an uphill battle to get in the top four, but they’ve given themselves a chance with how they started against Hull (last week). We’re standing in their way of that start getting even better and we have to go and cement our place at the top end of the table.
“As you can imagine, the semi-final was taken hard by a few of the boys, but the best way to put that right was a good win against Wakefield. We were really ruthless and racked up some seriously good points.”
Farrell concedes that being consigned to the stands with the rest of Wigan’s injured contingent for the bulk of 2016 has been tough to take – but now the 26-year-old wants to play a crucial role in a potential Wigan run to the double.
He said: “Games like the St Helens derby and the cup semi-final, they’re the games you’re desperate to play in and it makes things tough to have to watch the boys play in big matches without you.
“That will only make me more determined to play in some big games with Wigan over the coming months, though.
“It could still be a special year, don’t worry. Our aim is solely focussed on top spot; we’re in a good position with where we are and hopefully we can grind out, finish top and get in a good position for those semi-finals.”
Having the League Leader’s Shield snatched from them by Leeds in the dying embers of the final round last year has also intensified Wigan’s desire to finish top of the pile for only the fourth time in 20 years.
“Since the new structure, a bit more emphasis has been put on top spot; it’s more important to us especially after Leeds snatched it from us at the death last year. It’s a good system in my opinion, and we’re determined to claim the top spot this year after coming so close 12 months ago.”
Wigan also have one eye on a third consecutive appearance at Old Trafford and the Super League Grand Final – but after two defeats in as many years of late, Farrell is adamant that simply getting there isn’t enough.
“I’ve been lucky enough to win a couple, but the pain associated with losing the last two is seriously hard to take.
“It’s not good enough for a club like Wigan to be just getting to the Grand Final, we have high standards here. Being at Old Trafford isn’t enough; we have to start winning things again, this top spot followed by the big one at Old Trafford are our aims this year.”
And you have to believe that with Farrell fit and firing once again, Wigan’s chances of silverware this year have just increased somewhat.