Liam Farrell insists his Wigan Warriors side must expect an intense physical battle when they face off with Sydney Roosters in the World Club Challenge.
The Grand Final winners from the Super League and the NRL will play for the trophy at the DW Stadium on Sunday, in one of the undoubted highlights of the rugby league calendar
One-club man Farrell is far from just there for the occasion however, believing the team who do the best when the yards are hardest to come by will come out on top.
“It’s the same as all the big games,” said the 28-year-old. “None of it is about the flashy players, it’s about the nitty gritty stuff when you get down to focusing on grinding the opposition down to win that way.
“I think the Roosters will be thinking the same way. We are expecting a physical game and a tough one at that.
“It’s going to be a physical start and they are going to try and give it to us early.
“We are expecting a tough challenge but I think as the game goes on we will see both teams trying to play their own rugby.”
Farrell knows all about the key men for the Roosters, with the game on Sunday full of star power.
Southern hemisphere legends like Cooper Cronk, Boyd Cordner and James Tedesco are all set to take to the DW Stadium for the visitors, showcasing the crème de la crème in a rugby league-mad town.
And four-time Super League winner Farrell knows the hosts will need to keep a close eye on the top-class names if they want to lift the trophy for a record fifth time.
“Roosters have got a lot of strong players like Cooper Cronk at the halves and James Todesco at full-back,” he said.
“They are really strong key players for me. If we can mark up where they are on the field then it will be a strong indicator of where the ball is going to be going.
“Defensively we have got to be on them. If we are on it defensively we will give ourselves a chance of winning.”
Wigan have a storied history in the competition with four wins – the most recent being in 2017 as a Joe Burgess hat-trick helped them to a 22-6 win over Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks.
Second row Farrell was part of that squad, with many of players returning aiming to lift the World Club Challenge trophy for a second time – confident of giving the DW Stadium crowd something to remember.
“We always get a big crowd and a good attendance but I think it’s even more important we get that on Sunday,” he said.
“They really do give us that extra motivation when they turn out in numbers. They inspire us to win so we need them behind us and helping us to get a performance in.
“It’s one of the most important games of the year. To win this one and be crowned the world champions is something really special.
“But you can see the Roosters have come over with a strong squad and they are here to play and take the trophy from us. We are up for the challenge.”
Wigan Warriors take on the Sydney Roosters in World Club Challenge as the world’s two best rugby league sides go head-to-head at the DW Stadium on Sunday February 17th, kick-off 7pm. Secure your seat today by calling the DW Stadium ticket office on 01942 311111 or visiting https://wiganwarriors.com/tickets.
By Connor McLoughlin