Wigan Warriors- The 18th man: ‘This is a real chance to forge our way closer to the top for the end of year party at Old Trafford’
The 18th man contributors look ahead to Wigan Warriors’ game against Toulouse at the DW Stadium.
Bateman looked like he was firing on all cylinders again and it's good to see.
John Bateman is at his best when he is offloading when he can, cutting back inside, not taking tackles and generally going against the grain and being competitive.
Farrell didn't play as well as he does for Wigan, I put that down to the halves he was playing with as it takes a bit of time to gel, but it took a couple of games before Faz and Cust got that understanding.
Looking forward to Friday, I'm hoping that this is the start of a run of consistency and we start moving up the gears ready for the end of the season.
If we are going to try a new style of play or new moves then this is the time to do it and master them by the time the playoffs come around.
I take this game as being at Everest base camp, it's been an effort to get here but now the hard work begins, we regroup, get our things together and then go again at the Grand Final.
Initially I was not sure of the value of the mid-season international but I think my mind was changed when I watched the game last week.
The All Stars gave a good account of themselves and showed some great individual flair but that is exactly the point, individual.
Often there was no cohesion in their moves and miscommunication was rife in their attacking plays.
It was to be expected really as one can’t expect these lads to gel without some serious training sessions and here is the rub with the England squad.
To be in with a chance at international level, a passing familiarity is not enough in the pivotal roles of a rugby league squad.
To play alongside one another in competitive matches will help tremendously and is a valuable training aid for us.
That last year saw a loss for England speaks volumes and showed how much improvement we needed to see to cope with the energetic Antipodean sides.
The extra year will certainly help us build a squad to compete but I think anyone who watches the Origin Series in Australia, (second match this Sunday), will see just how different they play the game down under.
Some huge positives from the encounter though were the performances of John Bateman and Liam Farrell.
Bateman seems to be finding some of the form which he was famous for before leaving for a stint at Canberra.
His defence is coming on and his attacking hunger makes him a proper handful.
Liam is just Liam. Dependable and first class, he would be the first name on the team sheet for me wearing a Captains armband.
This week we welcome Toulouse to the DW.
Last time out they gave us a real match and we cannot afford to start the game like we did back then.
I think Matty Peet has begun to hone this squad into a team capable of great things. We must press on with our campaign and put these new boys to bed with a convincing performance.
Toulouse will be no push over but I hope we will have a big crowd and get behind the lads once again.
With a run of home games on the horizon, this is a real chance to build some much needed momentum and forge our way closer to the top for the end of year party at Old Trafford, it’s getting exciting again.
Finally, I was greatly saddened to hear of the passing of one of our all time greats, Bill Ashurst.
He was one of our own, an Ince lad made good and was a legend in the game both here and down under at both professional level and with his devotion to the community game.
His wonderful dry sense of humour made him a joy to listen to and he will be greatly missed. My most sincere condolences to his family and friends on this very sad occasion.
A home game at last. It will be nice to be back at the DW on a Friday night, following a two month break.
Toulouse are a better side since we last played them and have strengthened with a couple of NRL players in Norman and Alvaro, in addition to Nathan Peats at hooker.
We need not to take them lightly and make sure we start the game well, like we did at Salford, and put them on the back foot.
Hopefully we select a strong team following a week off for most of our squad, and continue with our exciting brand of rugby, with Field, French and Marshall at the fore.
It should be a game we are looking to win, although nothing can be taken for granted.