Leigh Centurions are once again battling against the odds as they prepare for Thursday’s Northern Rail Cup semi-final with Batley Bulldogs at Leigh Sports Village.
With injuries galore, the Centurions have not been helped by the fact that their game is being televised by Premier Sports and takes place just four days after they have played York City Knights.
On top of that Wigan’s own injury crisis means that Leigh will be struggling to have dual-registered players available from the Warriors.
But, as always, Centurions coach Paul Rowley just takes it in his stride. “We are doing it tough at the moment, but it has been like that most of the season and on Thursday night we will be there to give it our best shot,” he said.
“We will start as massive underdogs against a side that is as healthy as it can be and which has its dual-registered players available. The odds are stacked in their favour even if they weren’t a good side. But they have an excellent coach in John Kear, play some great rugby and are a terrific side.
“In contrast we picked up knocks to Greg McNally, Simon Finnigan and Matt Gardner last Sunday that pretty much rules them out for this game. It’s a real sickener for the players, and at this stage I am not sure who I can bring in.
“But the biggest positive of all this adversity is that whoever we have asked to put on the Leigh jersey, they have come up with some terrific performances. I can’t speak highly enough of our players, and in particular the under-20s who are stepping into the breach.”
Leigh did get Martyn Ridyard back and after he had played 54 minutes, Rowley decided to withdraw him from the game against York.
“He’d done enough to ease himself back after a month out,” explained Rowley. “And the game was won. I wanted to keep him for Thursday.
“There is no doubt that his return is a big boost as is the form of Anthony Nicholson who has really put his head down and worked hard at playing at scrum-half with tremendous results.”
Nevertheless Leigh are without those three players plus captain Rob Parker, Martin Aspinwall, Craig Briscoe and Ryan Brierley.
“It’s all to play for,”added Rowley. “Maybe Tom Spencer could come available from Wigan if he comes through the game at Warrington ok, although Scott Taylor appears to still be out injured.
“We will work on our team selection and whatever combination we come up with, everyone can rest assured they will be giving 110 per cent to win through.”