Liam Farrell's blueprint to play-off glory with Wigan Warriors
Liam Farrell has warned his team-mates they can’t afford to “crumble” under the play-off pressure.
Wigan host Leeds tonight in a sudden-death showdown.
For the winner, a place in a semi-final awaits – either at St Helens or Catalans – while for the loser, it’s the end of the road.
And forward Farrell, who admits he is ‘haunted’ by the memories of last year’s Grand Final, is not ready for the campaign to finish yet. He said: “In big games like this, it’s important you don’t crack under pressure.
“There will be times when things don’t go right and you’ve got to make sure you don’t crumble under the pressure.
“The season has had its up and down moments, but we’ve found some consistency over the last month and that’s the time to do it.
“We’re not getting carried away, but we know what’s working.
“There’s going to be some emotion there, with players leaving, but you’ve got to keep it in check. We’ve got to knock a couple of games off to get to the Grand Final and I’ve not been as confident all year as I am now about getting to the Grand Final.
“I think we’re playing probably the best rugby we’ve played, we’re defending really well, so we’re giving ourselves a real shot.”
Wigan’s reward for finishing fourth is a home game against fifth-placed Leeds, with Warrington (third) facing Hull KR (sixth) in the other opening round play-off.
“Leeds have got some big-game players, I imagine they’ll turn up for them,” said Farrell. “They came to us a month ago and embarrassed us a bit, we’ve improved and hopefully we’ll put in a better performance.
“But one on one, they have a lot of individuals who can cause us trouble.
“At the moment, Rob Lui in the halves and Kruise Leeming as well, he’s directing them more than anyone. Harry Newman causes a lot of trouble with his ball carrying and they have a few big middles.”
NRL-bound Oliver Gildart and Jackson Hastings are set to play their last match at the DW Stadium, while coach Adrian Lam is also departing at the end of the season along with props Joe Bullock (Warrington) and Tony Clubb (retiring).
It is unclear whether injured captain Thomas Leuluai will retire to take a coaching role or play on one more season.
Wigan clinched the League Leaders’ Shield last season but were edged out 8-4 in last year’s title-decider against St Helens by Jack Welsby’s last-gasp try.
“It still haunts me a little bit, it was a tough one to take,” admits Farrell.
“It’d be great to right that wrong, it’s in the back of my mind but we’ve got a couple of games before we can get back there.”
Meanwhile, whenever Wigan’s season finishes, the 31-year-old hopes he will have one more game to play before he takes a well-earned rest.
With the World Cup postponed a year, the RFL confirmed last week that Shaun Wane’s England will take on France in Perpignan on October 23.
“I’m pleased they’ve been able to organise it, all the lads will be looking forward to it and hopefully I get selected,” added Farrell.
“I’m disappointed there’s no World Cup but any time you get to put on an England shirt is a big honour.”