GARETH O’Brien has been a Lion, Tiger and also Wolf in his now 10-club


but feels right at home in his new Leopards skin.

Recently turned 31, O’Brien had no clues as to Leigh’s dramatic metamorphosis from Centurion to big cat when he considered cutting short his Castleford career.

But initial shock turned to swift acceptance of the club’s change of image to mark its return to Super League next year.

“There were a few eyebrows raised but all the boys have got fully behind it,” said O’Brien whose 11-year career has seen him pull on-among others-jerseys for Swinton, Warrington and Toronto.

“It is a direction a lot of clubs are taking in the modern era and I fully support it. I am looking forward to wearing the shirt next season.

“But I had no idea what was coming. I was sat on the couch and it popped up on Instagram. I was surprised to say the least but it has definitely grown on me.”

Warrington raised O’Brien had another 12 months on his stay at the Jungle but chose to move back closer to his roots for family reasons.

His ability to fill a variety of positions across the back line will prove a major asset for head coach Adrian Lam.

But the goal kicking half back will happily challenge Zak Hardaker for the full-back berth.

“I do prefer full-back,” he told Journal Sport. “For one thing it gets me out of the defensive line so I don’t have to make too many tackles.

“But I feel I have had my best years in that position. However, if I am in the halves, I am more than happy to out my body on the line for the team.”

O’Brien says Leigh, who welcomed back Lam from his World Cup campaign with Australia this week, haven’t yet set targets for 2023.

But he added: “I think we can be very competitive. With the squad we have got, I know we will be looking for a play-off place. Anything short of that will be an underachievement with the talent we have.”

*Former Leigh full-back Caleb Aekins has signed a two-year deal with Championship side, Featherstone Rovers.

Aekins was one of Leigh’s stand-out performers last season, scoring a number of eye-catching tries, including the promotion clinching victory over Batley, to earn a call-up for Wales’ World Cup squad.

*Ex Leigh forward Tom Spencer will make his boxing debut in a charity fight next year. Spencer will take on local Hull footballer, Mike Stansfield at the MKM Stadium Hull on February 23 with proceeds going to the Life for a Kid charity.