The Liam Farrell Column: Great to have Burgess back
It's great we've got Joe Burgess coming back to the club.
As a Wigan player, a lot of people presume we know everything that’s going on, but that’s not the case - I didn’t even hear any rumours about Budgie coming back!
He was a really good player when he left, an England Test winger, and he’s only going to be better.
Because he settled in the first-team so young, people can sometimes forget he’s still only 21 - he’s still learning and improving, and it’s exciting to know he’ll be doing that here.
For whatever reason, he’s not had a chance at the Roosters - I’m not sure why he’s not played more games - but he is highly-rated and I’m sure there would have been a lot of interest in him.
The fact he wants to come back to Wigan speaks volumes about the culture of the club.
Sam, Joel and Moose all came back and when people have left, they do talk about how good it is at our club - that’s something I don’t take for granted.
Budgie has a close-knit group of mates here, with lads like Oli and George, but everyone gets on with him - he’s a great lad who’s good for a laugh.
And I’m especially pleased he’s back - I can pass the mantra as the most ginger player in the club to him!
I’ve not been involved this week but I’m sure the lads have spoken about what has happened in the last two years. Since winning the Challenge Cup in 2013, we’ve been knocked out twice - by Castleford and Hull KR.
And those games have taught us to expect Cas’ to be on this Saturday. They’ll show up.
Luke Gale does a great job for them, and they are one of those sides that can throw something unexpected at you, so concentration will be even more important than usual. You can’t nod off or they’ll punish you.
It’s obviously a huge game for both sides - Cas’ have been to Wembley more recently than us - and with a place in the semis up for grabs, this is an awful stage to go out at.
I’ll sit back and watch the other quarter-finals with interest. Who am I tipping?
Tonight I think Huddersfield may get home against Wakefield but it’s a close one to call.
I think Widnes will put up a fight tomorrow but I think Warrington will edge it by 10 points, and on Saturday I think Hull FC may beat Catalans by a similar margin.
Thursday’s game wasn’t a great spectacle but it was a great win for us.
I know there was only one try and a lot of errors, and if you wanted to be ruthless you could pick out flaws in our performance.
But with the personnel we had missing I thought it was a really gutsy display from the lads. Jake Shorrocks came in at stand-off and I was really chuffed for him. He only got the call-up on game-day, which is probably the best way - he didn’t have a week stressing about it. I had a similar experience for my debut, when George Carmont pulled up on team-run before an Easter Monday game, and I was thrown in.
Jake has had a tough time with a knee injury, but he’s a great kid and a talented player, and without burdening with expectation I think we’ll see more of him before the year is out.
We started with lads playing out of positions and with the injuries suffered during the game, we finished with 13 blokes on the field, finding a way to win. I know it wasn’t pretty at times but those are the type of games we’ve lost in the past. I honestly think we’re feeling the benefit of some of the development of our younger players.
And now we’re second in the ladder - when everyone in the squad will tell you we’ve not seen the best of us yet.
Our luck with injuries has been as bad as anyone’s, so to be second in the ladder is a fair achievement and it’s a credit to the staff, as well as those who have played.