GARETH Hock will miss Leigh’s Good Friday derby at former club Salford but is available for the second part of Centurions’ holiday Betfred Super League double header with Hull FC on Easter Monday.
Hock faced a two-game ban for directing foul and abusive language towards referee Jack Smith during last Friday’s 37-26 home defeat by Catalans Dragons.
Instead, the former England forward pleaded guilty to the Grade B offence and was suspended for only one match but also ordered to pay a £300 fine.
Ironically, former Royal Marine Smith takes charge of Leigh’s show down against the second placed Red Devils at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Centurions have lost their last three games but head coach Neil Jukes says the holiday programme is a great chance for his team to re-discover their early season form.
“The Easter period doesn’t faze me it just gives more opportunities to put a few things right we are not doing at the moment,” says Jukes.
“We can’t do much more than train well and I am confident we are doing that.
“We probably need to get a bit more belief back in the team. But it won’t just appear on its own. We need to be more consistent and start pushing teams with good performances.”
Opening the holiday fixture list against Salford is now a more daunting prospect than might have seemed a month ago. A 54-18 rout of Challenge Cup holders Hull FC last week is one of the results of the season so far.
And Ian Watson’s outfit is far removed from the team beaten 32-26 in last season’s Middle 8s and that scraped home against Hull KR in the Million Pound game.
“If ever they needed a kick up the back side then last season they had the biggest one you can get,” added Jukes.
“That will have kept them on their toes this year plus they kept a lot of their players and they kept a lot of their staff.
“Salford are playing well but it is a good challenge for us. I have said to the players, it’s something we have got to look forward to rather than worry what might happen.
“We have got to go and bring our best performance of the season. We have trained really well this week and now it’s just about implementing it on game day.”
Jukes sees plenty of similarities between himself and Salford counterpart Watson: two English bosses, untried as head coaches in Super League before handed their opportunities.
“Marwan (Koukash) could have said at the end of last year we will go with someone different. But they showed faith in ‘Watto’, he has worked hard, the players have bought in to what he wants to do and now he has the longevity of a three-year deal.
“Up until Keiron Cunningham went what we have seen is a lot of local guys in charge of local clubs. We understand what the club means to the town, myself included.
“And while we have had three back-to-back defeats, we are still in a far better place this year than this time last season.”
Leigh’s fifth round Ladbrokes Challenge Cup tie against Hull KR will be played at Leigh Sports Village on Saturday, April 22. Centurions won 25-18 when they met in last season’s Middle 8s campaign.
Rovers have won all nine Championship games to top the table.