Wigan Warriors prop opens up on playing through pain barrier as he prepares for milestone match

Ben Olawumi
Kai Pearce-Paul (left) and Liam Byrne (right)

Liam Byrne (right) will clock up 100 appearances for Wigan tonight - Alamy

Wigan Warriors ace Liam Byrne is set to clock up a century of appearances for the Cherry and Whites tonight, and ahead of reaching that milestone, he’s detailed ahead the lengths he’s gone to for the team this year.

The prop joined Wigan from local club Cadishead Rhinos back when he was 17. In a happy coincidence, seven years later, he’ll step out against Hull FC at the DW Stadium tonight for his 100th club appearance on what is his 24th birthday.

Byrne has had to wait for the milestone to come around, rested last time out for a meeting with a heavily-rotated Hull KR side which Matt Peet’s side dominated and won comfortably.

Peet told the media ahead of that game that he would rest the Ireland international who had been ‘playing busted’, and the player himself explained exactly that earlier this week.

Wigan Warriors prop opens up on playing through pain barrier

Speaking in the club’s press conference, he said: “I’m feeling much better, I was playing hurt. I had some problems with my ribs, so it was a tough few weeks playing.

“I definitely needed to play, we’ve had a lot of injuries this year so I guess this is kind of what’s expected, I needed to do it for the team. We had Coops (Mike Cooper) out, Ethan (Havard), Kaide (Ellis) and a few more, so it was what was expected of me. I didn’t mind putting my hand up and carrying on.

“I’ve probably played through some stuff this year that I’ve not been used to in the past. I’ve not had the best of luck with injuries and stuff, so there’s not really been much chance of being rested.

“Playing hurt probably hasn’t been something I was used to before, so I think knowing you can get through that and still perform to a decent enough level is probably something I’ve learnt more of because I’ve not been used to that in the past.

“My body wasn’t doing too well, I just needed a bit of time out. I’m feeling a lot better for it now, it was good to get some rest and I’m definitely feeling re-energised now and ready to go.

Liam Byrne on managing the pain

20 of Byrne’s appearances for Wigan have come so far this year, with the 21st tonight taking him up to a century overall.

On those weeks where he had to play through the pain, the Ireland International continued: “I think it’s managed in the week, the things I can get involved in and the things I need to stay away from, just try to keep me as fresh as possible for the games.

“It has probably been quite hard to manage because you need a decent level of cardio in you through the week so you are ready for the big games.

“It’s difficult because you don’t get as much practice in and you don’t get as much involvement with the lads. Sometimes when you are on the sideline running separate, you obviously want to be involved and it’s always good to get as much practice as you can in so you’re ready for the games, but it has been hard to manage.”

Wigan Warriors’ team bonding night away

Byrne’s last outing came on 29th July as Wigan tore apart a Leigh Leopards side still riding the crest of a wave following a Challenge Cup semi-final victory over St Helens.

That win for the Warriors though elevated them above their neighbours from the same borough, and they remain 2nd on the ladder ahead of this weekend’s action.

Byrne told the media that the break in the schedule last week allowed the Cherry and Whites squad to head off for an overnight camping trip as a bonding exercise ahead of the run-in.

He said: “I had a lot of family time and us lads had a camping trip on the Monday, so we all went to Coniston in the Lakes. That was pretty good and it was nice to get some time away from the field with the lads.

“We did have a campfire towards the end of the night, someone was on the guitar, and we’d had a couple of pints in the pub. We were in the Lakes on the boats and stuff, and we did a bit of paddle boarding, a bit of team bonding and getting round the campfire. It was a good time.

“The mood is good and we’re all looking forward to the remainder of the season, putting our best foot forward, getting into the play-offs and doing as well as we can do. Everyone is really excited and there’s definitely a good vibe at the moment.”

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