HARRISON Hansen is backing Kieron Purtill to become Leigh Centurions’ next full-time head coach.

But Hansen admits the next period of the season is key to Purtill’s chances of upgrading his caretaker status.

Victory over Super League neighbours Salford Red Devils in tomorrow’s home Ladbrokes Challenge Cup sixth round tie (kick-off 7.35pm) will be a step in the right direction.

And Hansen believes a succession of Championship fixtures against top four rivals, Featherstone, Toronto, Halifax and Toulouse are even more important.

“I hope Kieren does get the job,” said Hansen, among the try scorers in last Sunday’s 40-30 defeat of London Broncos, the Centurions’ ninth successive league and cup win.

“We don’t need another coach and I think Derek (Beaumont) does realise that.

“For me, here is no point trying to bring in someone else with the way we are going.

“Everyone is happy. And Kieron is doing a great job. But the deciding factor will be probably after the next month or so to see where we are at.

“Derek will decide what he feels he needs to do. But from a players’ point of view we would be more than happy to have Kieron Purtill as our full-time head coach.

“We are turning up for training happy, we are training hard and getting the rewards on the field.

“The boys are all firing and Kieron is doing an awesome job. The boys are listening to him, he is making the right calls and right decisions towards the team and training.”

Hansen, a Challenge Cup winner with Wigan Warriors, admits promotion to Super League remains Leigh’s priority.

However, he hasn’t ruled out over turning another of his former clubs and last season’s semi-finalists at Leigh Sports Village.

“We will be going full tilt against Salford,” confirms

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Hansen who spent two seasons at the AJ Bell Stadium before joining Leigh for the start of the 2016 campaign.

“In realistic terms is it at the forefront of our mind? “Probably not.

“But if we can beat Salford that will keep our winning mentality going.

“It will show where we are because we are looking forward to playing a Super League team again.

“The way we are playing we are going to be a good team to beat.”

Salford, beaten by Wigan in the 2017 competition, have won only five of their 14 Super League games and just once on their travels-at Huddersfield.

This is the Red Devils’ first tie of the 2018 tournament while Leigh have knocked out Batley Bulldogs and London Broncos.