KEIRON Cunningham says Leigh are “striving for greatness” after the heartbreak of their Betfred Super League relegation.

And Centurions’ Director of Football believes structures being put in place now can only benefit the club’s long term future.

But Cunningham admits there will be plenty of short term pain as the players prepare for life once again in the Kingstone Press Championship.

Nearly 20 of Leigh’s first team squad are now back in full-time training with the St Helens legend saying: “We should pretty much have everyone back for the start of December.

“This part of the year is predominantly about giving us a really good base for the rest of pre season.

“It’s a tough period with dark nights and dark mornings. The players are sore, battered and bruised.

“We have got to get this group fit and this is the only way to do it. Rugby League is a running sport and there is only one way to replicate that and that is to do lots of running.

“We are doing stuff with the ball but we will really get our hands on the ball properly at the start of December.”

Leigh’s new head of performance, Chris Baron, is currently on England World Cup duty but remains in regular contact with base. Centurions also have a new head physiotherapist in Adam Rowland.

“My belief is structures are built from the bottom up and that’s what we are doing,” added Cunningham. “We have got a really good base.

“We have good strength and conditioning, good medical staff and the coaching is good.

“We are a lot better prepared to build long term success for the club which is striving for greatness.”

On his own still relatively new position Cunningham explained: “An impartial pair of eyes is useful at times.

“It takes the emotion away from everything. There was an emotional connection to the group that got the club in Super League.

“Now, we need a group of players to keep us in Super League if we do get up there. A lot of that is built on the back of youth and experience.”

Part of Leigh’s re-building sees Micky Higham take on a dual role in the community department and on the match day coaching staff.

“To have Micky around the place is going to be a god send,” agreed his former Saints team mate.

“Micky would like to have played on until he was 47 because he is an absolute warrior’ - part of a dying breed.

“But his input is going to be invaluable for the next 10 years in different departments.”

Cunningham also praised another member of Leigh’s hookers’ union-Eloi Pelissier. The French international was dismissed from his country’s World Cup squad for apparently breaching a team curfew.

“All I can do is vouch for Eloi that he is an absolute champion of a fella,” said Cunningham. “He isn’t a drinker and he looks after himself.”

“I don’t know the circumstances or anything that has gone on.

“All I can presume is Eloi hasn’t followed the rules.”