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Opinion

Is Liam Farrell the most underrated player in Super League?

23 Sep 20, 3:01PM 0 Comments

Written by John Davidson

After two injury-interrupted seasons, veteran Wigan Warriors forward Liam Farrell is back to his damaging best.

The back-rower’s numbers so far this season are nothing short of phenomenal. Farrell leads the entire competition in metres, with 1573, and has made the second most carries in Super League with 197.

He’s also third highest for tackles, with 440, and fifth in tackle busts, with 49. In the 30-year-old’s 12 appearances this year he has also scored five tries and set up four others.

Farrell’s form is a big reason why Wigan have only lost three of their 11 games this year, and at the top of the table with 16 points along with St Helens and Warrington.

For the Warriors, it’s a relief after the second-rower battled some debilitating injuries over the past few years. In 2016 he only played 15 games, in 2017 that rose to 27, in 2018 it was 19 and last year he played just 16.

In that time Farrell has faced a torn pectoral, shoulder problems and a rib injury, among other ailments. It’s unsurprising considering his high work-rate, the way he plays combined with the physical nature of Super League.

But having the man nicknamed ‘The Ginger Pearl’, after former Wigan star Ellery Hanley, back fit and firing this year is huge for Adrian Lam and his men.

Farrell might not get a lot of plaudits by the media or from opposing fans, but his influence cannot be ignored and he is loved by his teammates and the Wigan faithful. A local junior and one-club man, the forward is cherry and white to his core.

Former teammate Micky McIlorum has described him this way: “Faz is the type of player who for me is Mr Consistent, he’ll never drop below a 7 out of 10 and these are the type of players you need in a team who want to win trophies.

“He’s a player you know who will always be there week in week out in terms of his performances and he can sniff a try out as well. I think for me he’s become the player he is because he is one of the toughest trainers in the team and his standards are so high, which the top players all have, and I rate him as a top class player and friend.”

Farrell has enjoyed a glittering career at the DW Stadium, including grand final wins in 2010, 2013, 2016 and 2018, Challenge Cup wins in 2011 and 2013, and a World Club Challenge victory in 2017. He was even awarded the Harry Sunderland Trophy for his key part in the 2016 decider at Old Trafford.

The back-rower debuted for his country in 2013 but has earned just 10 Test caps. Overlooked by Wayne Bennett for a long time, that absence will surely end under new England boss Shaun Wane.

Wane knows Farrell very well, better than most, and appreciates what he brings to a team. So does former Wigan great, and current club chief, Kris Radlinski.

“There is a sign in our gym says, ‘Dream big, work hard, stay humble’,” Radlinski says.

“This means so much to people in our Club. If people do not live up to these standards, you don’t last very long.

“These trademark signs only work if the people within the group buy into the message and then they will do it if the leaders of the team live and breathe the sentiment. Faz does.

“My vision of a champion is what he does when nobody is watching. When he is in the gym on his own and he makes every repetition count. He is dripping in sweat, but not looking around for recognition or admiration. I know that’s what Liam does.

“I have seen him running in the dark. I have caught him straining as he squeezes out that last rep, with nobody around to help him if it goes wrong. These individuals are the foundations of any team. With that in mind, Faz will be first on the team sheet for many people.”

To many he goes under the radar, but it shouldn’t be the case. Liam Farrell is having a brilliant year, his testimonial year, and deserves all the praise he gets.

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