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The Liam Farrell column: ‘New-boy Hankinson has caught the eye’

Chris Hankinson is set to make his Wigan debut
Chris Hankinson is set to make his Wigan debut

I met new-boy Chris Hankinson for the first time yesterday.

Already he seems to have fitted in well.

He’s in the squad to face St Helens and, if he plays, I feel for him in one sense, he couldn’t ask for a bigger game to make his debut in!

My brother, Connor, is at Featherstone and has played against him.

He says that even though Swinton are down near the bottom of the Championship, he has stood out and he thought he would do really well at a Super League club.

I obviously won’t be playing because of my shoulder injury. I watched the team run and the lads looked on point.

I’ve been involved in enough derbies to be able to notice the difference during the week.

Players arrive to training that bit brighter, they train that bit sharper, nobody needs firing up.

Everyone is buzzing for it.

The mood changes on game day. When players arrive and sit in the dressing room, it is usually quieter, which I think is a reflection that they’re more focused.

Every player recognises they have a job to do.

I’ve been around long enough to be able to get an idea when we’re going to turn up.

Which is no guarantee we’re going to win, of course; in the derby on Good Friday, we lost but we didn’t have an off-day.

It was an intense match which could have gone either way, and Saints got the ‘W’.

They have earned a lot of praise this season and I think it is deserved. They were impressive from the start of the season and what has been impressive has been the way they have kept knocking out the results, when some may have expected them to go through a rocky spell.

The fact they have only lost two games all year shows how consistently good they have been.

Yes, they have been fortunate with injuries – prop Alex Walmsley is a big loss for them, but they have plenty of other stars in their side and they’re all performing well.

Ben Barba can create chances, is a great finisher and has been getting a lot of the headlines, but it’s not all been about him.

They have some quality outside backs and good go-forward with players like Luke Thompson, and James Roby is the heartbeat of the side.

It seems that when he plays well, Saints play well.

Congratulations to Samy Kibula after he made his debut last week.

I’ve heard people say he’s the biggest 18-year-old they’ve seen – they should have seen him when he was 16.

He was probably the same size then!

I can see him spending some time here because he’s a skilful forward and he can cause teams some damage.

There were two draws in the televised games last weekend and some people have asked whether Super League should copy the NRL and bring in golden point.

I can see the argument either way but if it was my call, I’d bring it in.

I think everyone wants a winner and it would certainly add some more excitement to matches.