LEIGH return to Kingstone Press Championship action at Leigh Sports Village on Sunday with a game against North Wales Crusaders being dubbed Centurions’ ‘stiffest test so far’ by boss Paul Rowley.
“If you look at how they’ve gone so far, they will be at the top end of the Championship,” he said of the promoted team.
“They are a forward thinking club and Clive Griffiths and John Fieldhouse (coaches) are doing an excellent job.
“Their first 17 is quality but there are also good players throughout the rest of their squad.
“They have the likes of Stuart Reardon, Stephen Wild, Michael Platt and David Mills, who have been around. In close season they even got a couple of players signed ahead of ourselves.”
Crusaders have already displayed their mettle with wins against Barrow (with 12 men) and Swinton, while they battled away for an hour against Featherstone Rovers before being over-run in the final quarter.
After sitting out last weekend’s 74-6 success over Wigan St Pats, Martyn Ridyard, Oliver Wilkes and Bob Beswick will ‘definitely play’ according to Rowley.
Wilkes faced no further action after being put on report for suspected use of the knees in the recent win at Keighley.
Rowley was also full of praise for Chris Hankinson following the 20-year-old’s try scoring debut against St Pats.
He said: “Chris has been going well in the reserves, he fully deserved his call-up and took his try well.
“To score on your debut is something that as a player you remember for the rest of your days. He is one of a few players pushing really hard at the moment from the reserves. Cameron Pitman is another and it shows that there are chances to progress here.”
This weekend could also see Stuart Littler clock up his 100th Leigh appearance since joining the club from Salford ahead of the 2010 season.
Rowley said: “Stuart has been consistent so far and he’s ticking the appearances off. It’s a good milestone for Stuart to reach and it will be a proud occasion for him and his family.”
The fourth round of the Tetleys Challenge Cup sees Centurions visiting Rochdale in a repeat of their 2002 tie at Spotland.
Rowley said: “It’s probably a tie that won’t earn any money for either club but it does give hope of a money spinner or a cup run in the next stage.”
The tie will be played over the weekend April 4-6.
Both clubs will see a lot of each other with the league game between the pair taking place at LSV on March 30.