The Liam Farrell column: '˜Why Micky will be crucial to Catalans' chances'

Catalans' season is pretty-much riding on Wembley. I don't think they will let it slip.

Thursday, 23rd August 2018, 11:35 am
Micky McIlorum

Which is not to say they will win - Warrington are a strong, classy side - but I think they will turn up like they did against St Helens in the semi-final.

And that’s why I think we’re in for a great Challenge Cup Final.

Catalans look like a side that have been building this year and they look like they will get even stronger with the recruits they have for next season.

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In my opinion, my old mate Micky McIlorum has been the main reason why they have got to Wembley.

He leads the team defensively and he puts opposition teams under pressure.

Micky may not even be the one who ends up making the tackle, but because he has got out the line so quickly, he often spooks the opposition. The knock-on effect is they don’t have as much time to make decisions - they can be more panicky, less polished, less precise.

I know a lot of fans notice it. Believe me, anyone who has played alongside him really values it – it really gives the side a lift.

It takes a lot of energy to lead the line-speed like that, but Micky is so competitive he has the ability to find that extra effort which puts sides under pressure – and we saw that in the semi-final.

In that game, we also saw the Catalans forwards put Saints under pressure; they have good operators in players like Bousquet and Casty and, on the back of that, mid-season recruit Josh Drinkwater has given them some structure and a good kicking game.

On the flip-side, Warrington will start as favourites, and justifiably so. If Catalans don’t turn up defensively, the Wolves have the strike to cause them problems.

They have two good finishers out wide who will love the open space at Wembley – one of them, Josh Charnley, I know very well – and Stefan Ratchford is a threat, too.

A lot of their good work comes off the back of Daryl Clark being able to capitalise on their middles getting on a roll, which is why I think that how Catalans handle that area will go a long way to deciding the outcome.

Who do I think will win? Probably Warrington.

Who do I want to win? While I wouldn’t mind it if it’s Wire - and I’ve got some mates there - I must admit I’d prefer it if Catalans won, not only for Micky and Lewis Tierney, but to see them shake it up a bit and put a new name on the Cup.

I was pleased with how we performed at Catalans.

We knew with them having the Challenge Cup Final, they would want to put in a good performance but it could be a distraction, so we turned up with the right attitude.

I thought we were really strong defensively and quite fluid with the ball.

Our completion was good and, I wouldn’t say we ground them down, but we looked in control and we caused them trouble.

The one negative was the injury to Liam Marshall and, as far as I know, we’re still waiting to discover the full extent of his knee injury but we’re fearing the worse.

Whenever someone goes down like that, you can’t help but feel sorry for them. Marshy has been great for us this year, it’s not always easy backing up from your first season but he’s done that. Knowing the type of person he is - full of life and energy, he never stops talking! - he will deal with it as well as could be expected.