Leigh new boy Joe Wardle admits playing in the Betfred Championship next year will be a step in the unknown-but he can’t wait.

And the experienced former Huddersfield and Castleford star has a double ambition for 2022-promotion with Centurions and a Scotland international recall.

Wardle, who turned 30 last month, Chris Green from Wakefield and London Broncos’ Jacob Jones became Head of Rugby Chris Chester’s first recruits.

More are on their way and an announcement about the vacant head coach’s position was imminent as the Journal went to press.

But Wardle is already convinced he has made the right decision to drop down a division for only the second time in his career.

It is more than a decade since a player, who had NRL experience with Newcastle Knights, spent a brief spell on loan in Cumbria.

“I played three games at Barrow at the start of my career, so that’s pretty much my experience of the Championship,” he said.

“It will be good to play at new grounds but also to go back to the old ones. I came through at Bradford as a kid so playing at Odsal will be fun.

“I have heard a lot of rumours,” he laughed of the Championship’s reputation. “It will be interesting to see if it lives upto them.

“I am sure it will be very tough. There will be blokes who want to come out and smash you every two minutes. But that toughness aspect is something I quite like.”

Wardle played just once for Huddersfield during an injury plagued 2021 season.

He is adamant those issues are behind him and expects to be raring to go for the start of pre-season next month.

“After my injuries this year, this is a re-set and a new challenge. I just need my body to recuperate so I can get back to the standard I know I can be at.

“I want to get Leigh back into the top flight. They are a club, especially with the facilities, that should be there.

“In the past, perhaps they haven’t done things the right way and tried to buy their way in with some of the players they have recruited.

“But what Chessie is doing and the people he wants to bring in, it is looking good.

“I still feel I have a good four or five years left in my body even though a lot of people have tried to write me off.”

Dad of three Wardle last represented Scotland in 2014 but is keen to renew ties with the Bravehearts.

“I was in talks about playing for them against this year. However, because of the injuries I pulled everything to make sure I got myself fit.

“But I would love to rekindle things with Scotland, especially as it’s the World Cup at the end of next season.”

• Former Leigh centre Junior Sa’u, 34, has swopped rugby league for a new career in rugby union with American side, Washington DC Glory.