KIERON Purtill has started a new chapter in his coaching career but leaves Leigh with a sincere message for Centurions’ fans.

Purtill has been installed as permanent successor to Denis Betts as Widnes Vikings’ new head coach.

His departure is another blow for his home town club whose future remains up in the air less than a fortnight before the publication of next season’s Championship fixtures.

Purtill’s exit wasn’t a major surprise but he had hinted at accepting a part-time role for next season.

However, the lure of re-building newly relegated Widnes proved too great a draw.

Leigh legend Micky Higham and Paul Anderson have been spoken of as possible successors together with former Rochdale Hornets boss, Alan Kilshaw.

Higham would certainly be a popular appointment and an excellent way of keeping Centurions’ supporters on message.

And while Centurions have been quiet on his departure Purtill took to social media to thank fans for their backing during his nine months in charge.

Taking to Twitter he told Leigh fans: “Thanks from the bottom of my heart for your support and backing absolutely first class as always.

“On to the next chapter now and looking forward to it.”

Leigh fans responded on social media with CJ writing: “Really sad to see you go but life goes on and I am sure we will all meet up again sometime down the line.

“Thanks for your dedication in a really difficult situation. All the best for your new job.”

Lynsey Speakman said: “Thanks Kieron for steadying the ship in such awful times, never less than the ultimate professional. Best of luck at Widnes, our loss is definitely their gain.”

And Michael O’Dwyer said:” “Top class coach who did a fantastic job for us last year in most difficult of circumstances. You’ll be a great success at Widnes I’m sure.”

Purtill initially replaced Neil Jukes as head coach on a temporary basis and suffered a 38-18 defeat at Halifax in his first match.

He masterminded a first win in the 8-4 Challenge Cup game at Batley Bulldogs and went on to win another 10 matches before defeat to Toronto Wolfpack at Summer Bash.

Leigh then lost to Leeds in the Challenge Cup fifth round before embarking on another streak of nine wins in 10 outings.

A 22-4 defeat against 13-man Featherstone on Sunday, September 2 hinted that things weren’t right.

And despite back-to-back wins over Swinton and Rochdale, the wheels fell off in the closing weeks of the campaign, rounded off by a Championship Shield final loss at Featherstone.

“I have served my apprenticeship as a coach,” he said. “I have worked under a lot of very good coaches.

“Last season was a fantastic experience at Leigh and I am hoping I can bring what I have learned in my career so far over to Widnes Vikings.”