TOM Armstrong has become the latest player to sign a full-time deal with Leigh Centurions.
The 24-year-old joined Leigh for a second time this term having earlier played for the club in 2011.
The former St Helens centre helped Centurions to their 2011 Northern Rail Cup win over Halifax, having also represented Swinton and Sheffield in recent years.
His contract will run from December 2014 until 2016.
Head coach Paul Rowley said: “I am delighted to have secured Tom’s services to extend his career with Leigh Centurions.
“He has been outstanding since he rejoined the Club. His enthusiasm and application in training and playing is top notch and he is an all-round nice guy and a popular team member.
“Tom is very low maintenance for the coaching staff and is a model of consistency. It is especially pleasing to secure his services at a time when the vultures were swarming around “A lot of our players made people sit up and take notice with their performances against Leeds.
“Tom is continuing with his studies and is currently undertaking a Masters degree and I am committed to supporting him in this regard.”
Head of rugby Derek Beaumont said: “Tom is a quality individual as well as a great player. He is very switched on and currently doing a Masters degree, something Paul Rowley is keen to work around with Tom and his tutor to ensure he sees that through during his full-time contract.
“I believe this is testament to Paul’s respect for his players and their futures. He is very protective of them and always eager to act in their best interests.
“There is a clear benefit to having a former international player as a head coach as he has a great understanding of both sides of the coin.
“Tom was a target we went hard for at the end of last season and he has proved Paul right with his performances, which have been consistently excellent, culminating with his efforts against Leeds.
“I am extremely pleased to secure his short-term future and look forward to him enjoying a long career with our club going forward as we reach our goals together with the other signings we have made.
“There is a real positive vibe at the club at the moment and I believe we have clearly demonstrated that our current squad is capable of competing in Super League.
“The vast majority of that squad is secured for the next two years and we are continuing negotiations.”
Centurions face their second game in a week and third game in nine days when they take on Barrow on Sunday at Leigh Sports Village.
“They are a good side, but it’s like the rest of them.” Paul Rowley said, “I think they are all as good as one another it’s just that some teams get momentum and some don’t.
“With that comes confidence. With the inclusion of Bobbie (Goulding) to their recent line-ups, they won’t lack confidence or desire.
“It is probably the worst time to face them. They’ll be targeting this with us being at the back end of a tough schedule.
“We’ve been good over the last few weeks and have prepared well, recovered well and the players have looked after themselves.”
The Leigh boss refused to be drawn on the scheduling of games, commenting: “It’s the same every year but we have no dramas, it’s just an Easter period, and I like Easter.
“I’m a believer in making positives so you would hope that at the end of this week we’ll have come out of it mentally stronger.”
With both Armstrong and Adam Higson likely to be out for at least a couple of weeks, there are a number of permutations that the Leigh boss is considering, including the return of Alex Brown, a switch to centre for Liam Kay and the upgrading of Chris Hankinson from the club’s reserve set up who take on Halifax on Saturday at Sutton Park, Manchester Road (2pm), home of the Leigh Miners Academy.