NEIL Jukes is delighted by the speed and quality of Leigh’s rebuilding programme since his team’s relegation from Super League, writes Trevor Baxter.

But Centurions’ head coach admits it’s been “an awful job” telling some players they were surplus to requirements.

Jukes’ new-look squad, further strengthened this week by Nathan Mason’s arrival from Huddersfield Giants and the capture of Paterika Vaivai from Gold Coast Titans, returns to training for testing and assessment on November 6 with full training beginning a week later.

“Looking at where we were a few weeks ago, I didn’t think we would be in this position of getting the numbers in,” admitted Jukes.

“There are still a few things we are tweaking to make sure we get the balance right.

“But we are not a million miles off and if we were to start the season tomorrow we would be okay.

“It just shows the quality club we are that even though we have taken a step back, we are still one of the big clubs and that players still want to join us.”

The arrival of Bodene Thompson from New Zealand Warriors is one such high profile deal recently completed while the decision of Aussie playmaker, Daniel Mortimer, to pledge his future to Leigh is another coup.

“We had to react to the change of circumstances (relegation) and had to re-shape the team,” added Jukes.

“Looking at some of decisions we had to make early on and the work we had to do, we had a lot in front of us.

“So, from there to where we stand at the moment, I am really pleased with the blend of squad.

“There is a lot of youth and some genuine talent. It is a really good mix even though it is shaping up to be pretty much a new team.

“There is still a bit of work to get us to where we need to be.

“But that is something ongoing throughout the next few weeks and probably more through the season.

“We have to make sure, as and when the opportunity comes to get back in Super League, whether that be through franchise or though a play-off at end of season, it’s not that big a transition.”

Gareth Hock is so far the biggest name to leave the club since Leigh’s Million Pounds heartbreak.

Sam Hopkins has also been released as revealed in the Journal earlier this month.

Other announcements are likely.

“I think we deserved another crack to bed ourselves into Super League and to be better for experience,” said Jukes.

“But it wasn’t meant to be.

“So, some big decisions needed making, we needed to make them pretty quickly and some decisions were harder than others.

“It was the most intense time I have been involved with while I have been at the club, delivering news that we weren’t going to retain them for varying reasons.

“It was an awful job but that’s how it is. When they take a million pounds off you you have to make some tough decisions along the way.”