The Liam Farrell column: ‘Derby week is a rollercoaster’

Liam Farrell and George Williams tackle Jermaine McGillvary last Friday
Liam Farrell and George Williams tackle Jermaine McGillvary last Friday

Since I came into the first-team I’ve never lost a Good Friday derby. I’ve been asked to explain why. I’ll be honest, I can’t put my finger on it.

Because we’re both clearly capable of beating each other and their homegrown players have been brought up with the rivalry, like we have.

They’ll go into it wanting to get one over us, just as we want to get one over them.

I was the 18th man in 2010, when we won at Knowsley Road, and made my debut three days later on Easter Monday.

My first Good Friday debut was the following year, and I was lucky to score the match-winning try right at the death.

When that happened, I thought, ‘it’ll die down in a couple of years’, but even now people mention it and play the clip, which is nice!

Even though I’ve played in quite a few, it’s not lost any of its magic.

I’ve been brought up being told, ‘You’ve got to beat St Helens’.

I remember as a junior, playing for St Pats, whenever we were up against Thatto Heath and Blackbrook the intensity would lift.

It was the same in the academy and, when I reached the first-team, it stepped up again and suddenly there are cameras and 20,000 people yelling – it’s a great atmosphere.

And it’s not just about the game.

Everywhere I go, people talk to me about the game. It’s one big rollercoaster, all week, and it’s great. We don’t go out of our way to do things differently, but there’s a different feel in training. All the extras are done without coaches needing to ask, all the recovery is done, everyone is enthusiastic.

It’s got the makings of a great game because St Helens have been causing teams a lot of trouble and defensively, they’ve been pretty impressive. We’re looking at this as our biggest test of the year, and I imagine they might be, too.

The fact we go into it on the back of such a dominant performance against Huddersfield probably settles the nerves a little bit.

If you had a scratchy win or a loss before a derby, you’re left with things to fix up, but we were happy with how we went last Friday.

Attacking-wise, we were crisp and defensively we leaked tries from an intercept and a scruffy kick.

With Hull KR visiting on Monday, it’s a busy period for the players – I’ll be saving my Easter eggs for Monday night!

The strength and conditioning staff have all the protocols to make sure we do the right things over the weekend. We do a lot of recovery – and the session on Sunday will be light.

The majority of the lads will back up and play in both matches, although Waney has already mentioned he’ll freshen the sid e up with three or four players.

Gabe Hamlin is set to make his debut, and the fans can expect plenty of aggression from the Aussie prop.

The Test in Denver has been making the news for all the wrong reasons.

There are question marks about how much the NRL are buying into it.

It’s pretty disappointing if they’re not going to support it.

We want to see all the Kiwi and English boys from the NRL being involved.

I’m sure Super League clubs would probably want to keep their best players back, but they do the right thing for the international game and allow players to take part – I hope the NRL do that, too.