The Liam Farrell column: ‘Why the top-four is not beyond us’

Liam Farrell on the break against Widnes
Liam Farrell on the break against Widnes

It feels different being one of the teams chasing after a top-four spot, rather than being up there and trying to hang onto it.

I’ve found myself looking at upcoming fixtures and other matches, and trying to guess what may happen, and I’m not going to say I like it!

But it’s a different challenge, and we like to think we like challenges.

With 10 rounds left before the play-offs semi-finals, we certainly don’t think the top-four is beyond us.

With the team we have and – once we get some match-fitness into the lads who have returned – we’re feeling confident we can climb the ladder.

If we get to within four points from the top-four by the end of the regular rounds, I think we’ve got a great chance.

The win against Widnes has certainly lifted the mood.

People have gone on about the winless run we’ve had in the league, and it has been disappointing.

But we’re slowly pulling ourselves out of it and, as I’ve said before, if we can beat Catalans this weekend, we can look back and be pretty happy with the month we’ve had.

Catalans seem to grow another leg when they’re at home, and even though they’ve had three players suspended, they’ve still got a lot of top players. And the fact they can still make the top-eight means they won’t lack motivation.

It was great to see Tony Clubb back at the weekend.

He’s had a pretty tough year, first with his neck injury and then his kidney problem, and it was nice to see the reception the fans gave him when he came off the bench.

He took one carry, and then quickly got ready for another.

I had a quiet word and said, ‘settle down, you’ve got a defensive set coming up,’ which made him laugh. He was obviously keen to make an impression, and I thought he did that.

It was by far the perfect performance from us.

We put the ball down three or four times early on, and even when we got to 16-0 up, we made it hard work for ourselves.

But Widnes aren’t easy to play against, they are a fighting team, and it took a couple of big plays at the end.

Joe Burgess finished with two tries but his earlier tackle on Stef Marsh was a great effort – there aren’t many wingers who could have defended that.

I’ve got my suncream packed for Perpignan on Saturday.

I had cream on last weekend and still got burned, so I’ve no chance in the south of France!

We’re going there and back in a day, which is something the players wanted, after doing it last year. I wasn’t with them, but I did it last year with England.

And even though it means an early-start, the lads who went seemed to prefer it – they found it less of a disruption, not only for this week but for their preparation for the next game – rather than going a couple of days before and coming back the day later.

Summer is always great for major sports events.

I’ve been watching Wimbledon, and I’m hoping Andy Murray does well.

Tennis is one sport I’m terrible at! 
Table-tennis, I’d back myself. Squash, too. But I’ve never been good at tennis.

I’ve got a lot of admiration for the top players, as much for their fitness as their ability to keep mentally switched on for so long.

Sadly, I’ll not get to see the Lions’ final Test against the All Blacks on Saturday.

I’ve been really interested in this tour, and I hope they get the job done.