LEIGH Centurions welcome Swinton Lions to the LSV this Sunday and coach Ian Millward is all set for a local derby in every sense of the word.
“They are perhaps our nearest rivals in this competition,” explained Millward. “And with nine former Leigh players in their ranks, they will be certain to try and prove a point and make this a real derby confrontation.
“They were impressive in their narrow defeat against Halifax, and if they bring that type of attitude into Sunday’s game we know we will be in for a very tough test indeed.”
The Centurions began their 2011 Northern Rail Cup campaign with a 24-4 win over the holders Batley Bulldogs last Sunday. But the Lions are next up and they recruited well during the off season, capturing former Widnes captain Mark Smith, and a number of former of Leigh players including Ian Watson, Lee Wingfield, Andy Ainscough , Dale Cunniffe, Mike Morrison, and Ian Mort.
They are also now coached by Steve McCormack who has enjoyed success with Whitehaven, Widnes and Barrow and his coaching influence was already evident in the performance against Halifax that saw the Lions only finally beaten 28-22 in the dying minutes of the game.
But if Swinton were impressive, Leigh were particularly so, and Millward was delighted with the way his team performed.
“They all played well and we came through without any injuries” he confirmed. “But I was particularly impressed by our front rowers with Chris Hill starting just like he did last season.
“David Mills went well too, and Steve Nash showed what potential he adds after a long spell out with injury last season. Tom Armstrong also showed his class with a couple of tries and all things considered it was a great first outing.
“But for Swinton, we have it all to do again, and although the side played well I am minded to try and give a run out to Adam Higson and Andy Thornley , and maybe a couple of others.
“We have a long season ahead and I want to try and keep our players match tuned and ready to step in whenever called upon.”
The signing of Mills had been tipped in last week’s Leigh Reporter after impressive displays against Warrington and Harlequins and Millward is looking to him to make a big impact.
“Dave’s Super League experience will prove to be very valuable in the forthcoming Northern Rail Cup and Co-operative Championship season,” he said.
“I’ve been very happy with his three trial games and we have agreed a one year contract.
“His attitude to playing for the Centurions is positive and his work in training is first class.”
At 29 years of age, Mills has more than 150 Super League games under his belt after playing for Widnes Vikings, Hull KR and Harlequins, and that will prove invaluable in the squad.
Meanwhile tickets for the Swinton game are on sale from the ticket office, and online now. Prices are £14 per adult and £7 concession standing, and £16 per adult and £8 per concession seating. Tickets can be booked on 01942 487888.