LEIGH Leopards head coach Adrian Lam describes Friday night’s visit of Leeds Rhinos as “a must win.”

Despite defeat at St Helens last week Lam was heartened by an improvement on the opening night loss to Huddersfield Giants he described as “very clunky and frustrating.”

However, Leigh are one of three teams without a victory and Lam admitted: “We don’t want to get left behind on the ladder so early in the season.

“I realise it is going to take some time to play our best rugby. But we have just got to jag a win and build confidence off the back of that.

“We want to respond to the fans with a performance that we are happy with and they are proud of. It starts this week.

“It will a massive game for us as a club. We need our first win.”

Leeds have won two of their first three fixtures and Lam said of the opposition: “They have recruited well and look like a team that is well connected and playing for each other.”

Prop Tom Amone returns from suspension but skipper John Asiata and winger Tom Briscoe face several months on the sidelines.

Asiata, sin binned after 41 seconds but exonerated by the match review panel, suffered a 12 centimetre, grade two calf tear. Briscoe was helped off with the same injury and a tear of 10 centimetres.

Lam claimed St Helens’ pitch was a potential contributory factor in the injuries.

“There were a lot of complaints about the heaviness of the field,” he said. “No disrespect to St Helens and the ground but our feedback was it (the pitch) was very heavy underfoot.

“Three or four other players had tight calves and strains as well. Maybe the pitch needs to be looked at to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

On the “long term” losses of Asiata and Briscoe Lam insisted: “It is not ideal and different to what we have had in the past injury wise.

“But it is an opportunity for someone else to put their hand up and take the reins through the middle.

“We will change our game slightly to adjust. But teams that lose their influential and best players at the start of the season, once they can learn to play without them definitely benefit them when they comeback and go to a different level as a group.”

Eighties pop stars Carole Decker and T’Pau provide the game day entertainment.

Testimonial man Gregg McNally and another former Leigh favourite, Martyn Ridyard scored tries as Rochdale Hornets defeated newly formed Leigh Leopards Reserves 60-20 at Twist Lane last Sunday.

Tommy Porter, Jacob Gannon, Callum Disley and Daniel Tabern touched down for the hosts in McNally’s testimonial fixture with Jack Darbyshire (2) and Ben McNamara sharing the goals.

Leopards return to action on Saturday (2pm kick-off) for their opening league fixture against Leeds Rhinos at Leigh Miners Rangers Rugby League Academy, Sutton Park, Manchester Road.

Leopards’ women enjoyed better fortunes with a 26-6 win at Oulton Raidettes in their opening North Women’s Championship fixture.

Storm Cobain and Charlotte Melvin scored two tries apiece with Rhianna Burke also touching down. Melvin kicked three goals.

Leopards host Salford at Twist Lane on Sunday looking to replicate a recent pre-season win over the visitors.