LEIGH Centurions half-back Ryan Brierley insists his team will not underestimate Tetley’s Challenge Cup third round opponents Wigan St Patricks ahead of their clash on Friday at Leigh Sports Village, kick off 7.30pm.
Centurions have made an impressive start to the new season and Brierley, who celebrated his 22nd birthday yesterday, is determined not to take their good form for granted.
“Our target is to win every single game that we can and next up are Wigan St Patrick’s, so they are our priority,” said Brierley.
“We will stay professional and not underestimate our opponents.
“As a team we are reluctant to set ourselves goals for the season because we do not want to get carried away and lose focus on the present.
“Nothing is won in March so we will make sure that our feet are on the ground. We have a brilliant coach who is making sure we take each game one step at a time and with hard work I am confident that we will continue our good form.”
Brierley’s eyes are firmly on round four and a potential clash against Super League opposition in Rugby League’s oldest and most prestigious competition.
“As a child I grew up watching and dreaming about playing in the Challenge Cup so it is a great feeling for the club and everyone associated to be involved,” he said.
“Our main priority now is to make sure we put in a good performance to ensure we get through to the next round.
“It is a massive honour every year to be a part of this historic competition.”
With 11 tries, Brierley is the Kingstone Press Championship’s top try-scorer so far this season and in the process has become the first Leigh player to score three consecutive hat-tricks in the league.
“I am definitely playing the best Rugby League of my professional career, and I have my teammates to thank for a lot of that,” said Brierley.
“They put me into positions where I can finish off moves and it is testament to our collective spirit that we have started the season so brightly.
“Playing in front of our fans is always fantastic and the stadium has become something of a fortress for us.
“Hopefully the Wigan players will appreciate coming to our ground – if they can bring a bit of a following it should make for a great atmosphere.”
National Conference League Premier Division side Wigan St Patrick’s face a tough task, though forward Anthony Griffiths believes his side is ready for the challenge.
Griffiths, a former Leigh player, comes up against a side which has won all four of their opening games, scoring 184 points in the process.
“For us it is a huge occasion, and to face a side top of their league and in a rich vein of form gives it that added spice,” said Griffiths.
“Everyone at the club is looking forward to the match – there are definitely some in the squad hoping we can pull off a shock result.
“But everyone knows how tough a match this will be and we all have our heads down so that we can be ready for the challenge.”
Wigan coach Dave Ruddy shares the enthusiasm of Griffiths and hopes some of his team’s rising stars can gain form the experience of battling with the Championship’s best on their own turf.
“Playing such a huge side at their ground is fantastic for our team,” said Ruddy.
“Leigh have been truly brilliant - to be able to reverse the tie and go down to their place is the ideal outcome to the situation.
“We have one or two young lads like Ryan Smith and Jayden Sanford who are performing to an extremely high standard at the moment. Both they and the rest of the team are relishing going head-to-head with seasoned professionals.
“In the past we have got to the professional rounds of the competition. As a team we have done well to get through to this stage again and it is obviously where you are likely to be tested by really good opposition.”
Tickets for the Leigh Centurions v Wigan St Patrick’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup third round tie, to be played on Friday March 14 (7.30pm), can be purchased for as little as £10 for adults and £3 for concessions.