The Liam Farrell column: ‘Lockers is still taken for granted’

Liam Farrell with Sean O'Loughlin in 2010
Liam Farrell with Sean O'Loughlin in 2010

Sean O’Loughlin is on course to play his 400th game for the club tonight. I couldn’t be happier for him.

I know he is regarded highly, but I still think he’s taken for granted a bit.

I look back to last year, when he hadn’t played since the first week of August, and he returned in the Grand Final.

Think about that for a second; he didn’t play in more than two months, but he was brought back into the side for the biggest game of the year.

Three years earlier, he didn’t play between guiding us to victory at Wembley and the title-decider at Old Trafford.

Fans talked about it, the media wrote and spoke about it, but it was almost expected that – if he was fit – he would play.

But I can’t think of another player who would be brought back for such a big game after so long out.

Jamie Peacock at Leeds, maybe. That’s it.

For me, the fact Shaun Wane selected him for last October’s Grand Final showed just how highly he is regarded.

You only have to be a passive fan to realise the influence he has on his team-mates; it’s hard NOT to notice when he goes off.

I don’t think there will be a player like him again, who has such a well-rounded skill-set, can whack so hard, has such an engine and has such an influence on the side.

To get to 400 games, in the position he plays and the manner he plays it, is remarkable.

He never tries to be the big man; he’s not one for speeches but, believe me, when he talks, people listen. He commands respect from the way he leads.

Everyone notices the big hits and the cut-out passes, but I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve been struggling, and he’ll step up and give everyone a lift with strong carries, and gets the sets rolling again; efforts which are certainly appreciated by team-mates and respected by opponents.

He embodies the values this club prides itself on – honesty, integrity, hard work – and I hope everyone shows him the appreciation he deserves.

I expected Catalans to play with a lot of intent last weekend, because they had a lot to play for, and they certainly turned up.

I thought it was a good game, and they were very aggressive and caused us some trouble.

We spoke about patience and not falling away from our structure, and in the end I think that was why the game opened up a bit at the end. We kept it simple, we kept to our plan and it paid off at the back end of the second half.

Both tries we conceded were from kicks, which we take as a bit of a compliment to our defence – though obviously we’re working hard on improving on limiting those as well.

The only downside to the win was I suffered a knee injury.

I tried to play on and run it off, but the physio said: ‘You could make it worse’, so I went off.

I’ve had it scanned and I’ve got a tear on my MCL, which will probably keep me out for three weeks or so.

It’s not great, but it’s a lot better than it could have been.

Games between Wigan and Warrington often bring out the best in us both.

We saw that in the Challenge Cup and to a lesser extent at Magic. They were terrific matches and I’m expecting this one to be another. I know it’s not really gone for them this year, but I’m 100 per cent convinced when they are on, they are one of the best teams in Super League. It’ll be good to see Ben Currie back – he was going really well for them until he suffered a knee injury.