Leigh Centurions’ hard-working squad continue with preparations for new season

Leigh Journal: Neil Jukes Neil Jukes

LEIGH Centurions’ hard-working squad continued with preparations for the new season between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Competition in the gym and at wrestling sessions has intensified following on from a training camp with the Royal Marines and ahead of a tough opening pre-season friendly against Wigan Warriors on January 19.

Assistant coach Neil Jukes said: “It was good to get back in. We had a couple of sessions before Christmas. The players then got two or three days off and then we had them in for another blast.

“The marine camp was physical and a lot mental. The players have just come through that gruelling six-week period where they will work harder than they will all year.

“We thought it best to reward all that hard work with a bit of time off, but it is just as important not to let that hard work go to waste.

“We are keeping on top of that, maintaining it. We are in four times over the next two weeks and that will be when the business starts again. We have some really tough pre-season friendlies coming up.”

With 28 players in the Centurions first-team panel, the period between Christmas and new year also saw retests being done and Jukes was happy with the results from the rowing test in particular.

He said: “They were outstanding and put everything into it. I think everyone has improved from the initial scores they got. It shows that the hard work they have done has paid off and we now want to kick on further.

“These are good players, good people and they are great to coach and be involved with.”

Despite the Centurions’ well publicised list of unavailable players due to injury and operations, numbers to the sessions have been consistent.

“In our first year we only had eight or nine bodies down at training at times, this time round we haven’t had less than 18,” said Jukes.

“Last week we were up to 24 training. Looking towards that Wigan fixture in two or three weeks’ time we’ll probably only have two or three unavailable – that will be when the healthy competition will start.”

That Wigan fixture now takes on even more significance with the Super League champions promising to send a stronger squad, and the recent dissolution of the dual registration partnership agreement that was announced between the clubs in March.

Leigh chairman John Roddy said: “The relationship with Wigan has been mutually beneficial but with proposed changes to Super League and the return to promotion and relegation in whatever form it takes, Leigh Centurions must be independent and capable.

“The board of management have also taken on board a significant number of concerns raised by our supporters, sponsors, and local business community.

“That negativity, while perhaps sometimes unfounded, simply had to be addressed. We look forward to 2014/15 and beyond with massive ambition, but we now need the local community, fans and sponsors to back us and prove to the game they want a club worthy of Super League status in the future.”

The ticket office will open again for business today, Thursday, for fans to buy tickets and collect their season tickets.

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