LEIGH Centurions boss Paul Rowley admits it will be refreshing to head into the Challenge Cup quarter-final clash at Leeds Rhinos as underdogs.
Centurions’ run of 15 successive Championship wins has seen them approach most weekends as favourites this season.
But despite facing high-flying Rhinos at their Headingley Carnegie home, Rowley is looking for an air of calm from his camp.
“Getting to the quarter-finals is a good achievement for the players, it’s a good occasion for the fans and a good money-spinner for the club,” he said.
“Regardless of the opposition, we are approaching this game in the same manner. We aren’t going to make the Leeds occasion one that is going to be impossible to recover from.
“It’s quite refreshing to approach the Leeds game as underdogs. There is no pressure there. We realise that no-one will be rushing out to put money on a Leigh win. We are just approaching it calm and collected like we do every other game.
“The closest to this was probably Featherstone away, and even Sheffield where a lot of people thought that might be the day we lost. From within our camp we were confident on those days.”
The quarter-final kickstarts a run of three games in nine days for Centurions, who host Halifax before travelling to Barrow Raiders.
“It’s going to be busy,” added Rowley. “There is less training to plan but the intensity provides a challenge where people need to recover quickly and deal with the rigours of the extra intense game.
“It’s the quarter-final of the Challenge Cup, then we have a top of the table clash with Halifax followed by a game against desperate and resurgent Barrow Raiders.
“You couldn’t ask for three more challenging games. Our challenges have been week by week.
“The only predictions I ever make are that the squad and players will give everything they’ve got and we’ll endeavour to play some entertaining rugby.”
Last week proved to be one of the busiest for Leigh in a long while with announcements about Kurt Haggerty, Cameron Pitman, Jamie Acton and Johnny Pownall.
Their signatures make it 11 squad places taken up for next season, with Rowley also signing an extended contract to continue as head coach.
Ahead of the 16-28 win at Workington on Sunday, it was announced promising youngster Jamie Tracey signed from the reserves to play for the next two years.
Centurions’ head of rugby Derek Beaumont is delighted at the club’s position, but sent a reminder it is only a job half done.
“I am delighted with the performance of the whole of the team,” he said. “Not only on the playing side but also from the support staff including medical, video, coaching and conditioning.
“I would not say I expected to be in this position but nor am I surprised to be in it. We set our goals at the beginning of the season and I for one realise whilst we are in a good place we haven't yet achieved them.”