Leigh Leopards’ emergence as a major Super League force is widening the club’s appeal beyond its traditional heartland.

That’s why 130 starry eyed hopefuls, some from Australia, France and Scotland, have applied to be part of a revived reserve grade squad for 2024.

Head of Youth Kieron Purtill, who will oversee three open trials in the coming weeks, described the response as “overwhelming.” Purtill’s task and that of other colleagues involved in the process, including Director of Rugby Chris Chester, will be to whittle the initial intake down to 15-20 players to compete as part of a pathway from Under 16’s through to senior Rugby League.

Leigh entered but didn’t play a fixture in last season’s 14-team reserve league that included Newcastle and London.

“Initially, we planned to hold two trials (at Leigh East) but the response has been so pleasing, we have added a third date,” explained Purtill.

“There are quite a lot of the local players I know from Leigh East, Leigh Miners, Golborne Parkside, Ince Rose Bridge and around that area.

“Some plied their trade last season in reserve teams for other clubs but there are a lot of names I have no idea about. You never quite know who might turn up and surprise you.

“The pleasing thing and one of our biggest selling points is we can off an opportunity to impress. Everyone will have a fair chance. If you take that opportunity on the field you will get a chance.

“If you don’t quite make it this time you won’t be off the radar. It allows us to have pool of contacts to identify and bring for the year after or the year after that.”

And you never quite know what might turn up and surprise you.”

The first trial will take place on November 23 followed by further talent sessions on November 30 and December 7.

Robbie Mulhern became the first Leigh player to represent England for 39 years when capped for last Saturday’s 26-4 win over Tonga at Headingley.

The Leeds born prop, who made his last England appearance five years ago, hadn’t featured in the opening two Tests. But given his chance, Mulhern helped Shaun Wane’s side to a 26-4 victory.

On the other side of the world Leopards’ team mates, Lachlan Lam and Edwin Ipape were part of the Papua New Guinea side that defeated Fiji 31-12 to claim the first ever Pacific Bowl; Ipape scoring one of the Kumuls tries.