LEIGH Centurions face a potentially season defining few days as they take on two of their biggest competition rivals at home. First, they face Widnes Vikings tonight, Thursday, kick off 7.30pm in front of the Sky cameras before locking horns with current leaders Featherstone Rovers on Tuesday, kick off 8pm.
Centurions face Widnes with boss Ian Millward still counting the cost of his team’s 58-16 defeat at Bradford where, including dual contract players, Leigh were missing seven.
At time of press Millward said, At the time of going to press, the Leigh boss was hoping to include John Duffy and seven-try centre Matty Blythe in his team selection against Paul Cullen’s men.
After seeing the team lose for the first time in 12 games last weekend, Millward is confident that his side will mount a strong challenge to Widnes, who themselves lost in heavy fashion to Wigan in the Challenge Cup and were also edged out in their last league game by Featherstone.
"I'm sure they will hit back," he said.
"There were plenty of positives to come out of the game. It wasn't all negative. They are resilient."
That last statement has been shown time and time again over the last two months when Centurions have shown good mental strength, having faced two trips to France - including a four-day coach trek - and beaten one of the Championship’s fancied sides with only 12 men.
"I think Thursday will be a great game,” said Millward.
“Both teams have designs on the top three, it's a ‘derby’ and is definitely a game that every player looks at and gets excited about, and so should the fans.
"Widnes have changed their team about a lot over the last few weeks, but what they do have is a lot of quality across the board. They will be hard to beat."
Ahead of their cup game with Wigan, Widnes named 16 players who were unavailable.
"Gee, I wish I had another 16 players," Millward quipped.
"Seventeen on the field and 16 in the stands - I didn't know that people had squads of 33/34.
“They will do what they do. We've got some blokes with bumps and bruises and we need to work ourselves out at the moment."
Featherstone have this weekend off from fixtures and will return to action on Tuesday, smarting from a 26-24 defeat to Toulouse in their last outing.
They are a dangerous team with the likes of Tommy Saxton, Liam Finn and Stuart Dickens finding great form.
In other news, the club is set to launch its first online shop with “Leighbay.net” set to go live towards the end of the week.
Fans will be able to purchase merchandise, match tickets and other memorabilia from home.
The club toasted the success of both under 15s and under 16s teams at the weekend.
Both returned victorious from a long day in Wales with wins over Crusaders. The 15s won 14-10 with the 16s successful by 21-18.
The Reserves are in action against Widnes on Saturday at Widnes Rugby Union Club’s Heath Road ground, kick off 2pm.