IAIN Thornley reckons Leigh have landed the perfect fixture to mark their return to Betfred Super League action next month.

And the experienced centre believes a non-playing member of John Duffy’s squad holds the key to upsetting 2020 Grand Final runners-up Wigan at the Emerald Headingley Stadium on Friday, March 26.

Thornley is one of a plethora of ex Warriors players looking to bring down their former club next month.

Lewis Tierney, Joe Mellor, Matty Russell, Tom Spencer and Craig Mullen came through the Wigan Academy system while Ben Flower only cut his DW Stadium links last year.

But Thornley, along with Tierney, try scorers for Catalans against Leigh in the 2017 Million Pound Game, believes another man with strong Cherry and White links will play a major role this year.

Paul Johnson spent nearly six and a half years as Wigan’s head of strength and conditioning following a top notch playing career with Warriors, Bradford and Warrington.

He’s now reprising the role at Leigh and already started to make an impact.

Ryan Brierley recently confirmed to Journal Sport the toughness of pre-season training and Thornley, handed the number three jersey in Leigh’s squad list for 2021, has echoed those thoughts.

“Wigan are always there or thereabouts and having them first game is good for us because it puts us into the mix against a top team straight away,” he said.

“They will be gutted by what happened in the Grand Final and they will be looking to go one step further.

“So, this match will give us a good feel of how these top teams play. However, we feel confident and hopefully we can pick up two good points.

“There are a few of the boys still there from my time like Liam Farrell, Sam Powell and Oliver Gildart and of course ‘Lockers’ (Sean O’Loughlin) has only just moved over into coaching.”

Thornley is now full-time following Leigh’s elevation to Super League and having all but finished his studies to become a qualified electrician.

“It’s been good to get back in that environment even if it has been hard,” he confirmed.

“Paul Johnson made Wigan one of the fittest teams in the comp and he has brought a lot of the stuff to us he likes to do as a conditioner.

“He is making sure he is doing everything he can to put us in the right physical condition, not only to play Super League but to play the top level.

“It is hard but hopefully we can reap the rewards. When we come to play a game it won’t feel as hard because we will have probably trained harder than the actual game.”

Leigh’s squad numbers: 1 Ryan Brierley, 2 Matty Russell, 3 Iain Thornley, 4 Junior Sa’u, 5 Lewis Tierney, 6 Blake Wallace, 7 Joe Mellor, 8 Ben Flower, 9 Liam Hood, 10 Mark Ioane, 11 Ben Hellewell, 12 Jordan Thompson, 13 James Bell, 14 Matty Wildie, 15 Alex Gerrard, 16 Nathaniel Peteru, 17 Jamie Ellis, 18 Matty Gee, 19 Nathan Mason, 20 Adam Sidlow, 21 Tyrone McCarthy, 22 Craig Mullen, 23 Tom Spencer, 24 Keanan Brand.