Liam Farrell admits the congested nature of this season’s Super League table makes great viewing for fans – but also creates a “do or die” scenario for Warriors.
Wigan head to Leeds tonight looking for a second successive win for only the third time this year, but have a run of four games against teams around them in the table which could produce the results they need to launch them towards the top five.
Last weekend’s win against Hull KR, in which Farrell made his return from a pectoral injury sustained in February’s World CLub Challenge defeat to Sydney Roosters,hasn’t eased the nerves for the eighth-placed Warriors yet.
“This next month is do or die for us, we started it well with a win at Hull KR but we have four games against teams around us and we need to get up that ladder,” said Farrell.
“It won’t be easy, they’re all fighting, but if we get a couple of wins you’ll see a lot of confidence out of this team.
“It’s probably been the best the league has been for quite a while.
“It’s quite nervous for us. But as a neutral it must be good to see the table like this.”
Last weekend’s win could best be described as scrappy, and some worrying habits – such as letting a 14-6 lead develop into an 18-14 deficit – were again present.
But Farrell insists players aren’t settling for being in cruise control.
“Nobody is accepting mediocre standards, things are not becoming acceptable, players are pushing each other now,” he said.
“We’re in a tough spot, it’s about getting consistent performances week in week out.
“We’re thinking very positively and we can be knocking on the top five in the next few weeks.”
But Leeds, on the back of two wins in a row, are also looking to climb the table after stalling at the start of the season which cost coach David Furner his job.
But Farrell has seen enough from the eight-time Super League champions to convince him they will provide the typically-tough encounter Warriors are used to facing at Headingley.
“Leeds by their own standard haven’t had a great year but their fight is there, their mentality is there,” he said.
“I’ve gone there and had some of my best wins – I’ve also had some bad results – and going to Headingley is never easy. This will be a tough one.”
One opponent Farrell is looking forward to facing tonight is Kallum Watkins, who will leave Leeds – two years earlier than scheduled – at the end of the season for “salary cap restrictions.”
Farrell played alongside Watkins in the England Academy – having crossed paths as junior players – and he admits he was shocked by last week’s announcement.
“Yeah, I don’t get surprised by a lot of things in this game anymore, but that one did,” he said.
“You think of Leeds and you think of Kallum Watkins.
“I hope he stays in rugby league and more so, stays in Super League.
“He always was a special talent. You always knew he would be that bit above everyone else, and when he gets one-on-one, you know his opposition centre is in trouble.”
Watkins missed the majority of the 2018 season because of a knee injury, and said he was looking for a new challenge.
“I’m a massive fan of his, whatever the situation there right now – Kallum will probably admit he’s not been at his best – but take this year out of it, he’s top three or four centres in the world over the last few years,” added Farrell.