WIGAN WARRIORS prop forward Liam Byrne insists he is not taking first-team selection for granted despite being handed the number ten shirt for the upcoming Super League season.
The Ireland international has been promoted from wearing the number 20 to having the famous number ten on the back of a cherry and white shirt.
The 23-year-old joins the likes of Brian Case, Shaun Wane, Adrian Shelford, Andy Platt, Neil Cowie, Craig Smith, Andy Coley and Ben Flower in wearing that shirt and although he knows the history behind the number, he also knows it will count for nothing if he does not perform.
“It’s a massive boost for me (getting the number ten shirt),” said Byrne. “It’s an absolute honour because there have been plenty of people who have worn that shirt who are legends of the club. I will do my best to fill their shoes, but I know I cannot take it for granted and see it as a given that I will be starting every week.
“Like I said there are big shoes to fill, I will do my best week in week to do the shirt proud and do myself proud as well. For this season, I just want to keep doing what I did last year, but I want to keep improving my own game. If I do that it will stand me in good stead to be able to be playing week in week out.”
Byrne admitted that last season’s play-off defeat at the hands of Leeds Rhinos still hurts, and although it is not really spoken about, they will be looking to use that as motivation heading into the new campaign.
“There are definitely things to work on,” he added. “We got that close to getting to the Grand Final and sort of failed at the last hurdle. We know we need to work on that and we need to be a team that is ruthless and see things through and gets to the big finals. We will be doing everything we can in this pre-season to get ourselves in that position.
“We have not really reflected on it (the Leeds defeat). It was gut wrenching, obviously being knocked out at the last stage. Leeds had a good second half to the season and deserved to go through. We will all remember that defeat and hopefully we can go one step further this season.”