Centurions face tough start to new campaign

Rob Parker
Rob Parker

Leigh Centurions will kick off the 2012 Co-operative Championship season with a televised game against Batley Bulldogs from the Leigh Sports Village on Thursday March 8.

It has been a busy time for Leigh squad-wise as they have completed their signings, but they now know what their fixtures will look like and the Batley clash will be the first game for the new Championship broadcasters, Premier Sports.

Leigh will also make their second TV appearance in Round Two, when Premier will broadcast their clash against last season’s Co-operative Championship winners Featherstone Rovers.

But before the Championship competition gets under way, the early part of the season will once again be dominated by action from the Northern Rail Cup which begins on the weekend of February 12. Trophy holders Leigh will begin the defence of their title at home to Barrow Raiders.

It signals a tough start to the new campaign as the club continues to bring in more players to boost their bid for Championship success. They have further strengthened their squad with former Warrington, Bradford and Salford player Rob Parker being the big signing last week. Other recent arrivals are Salford winger Adam Clay and ex-Widnes and Halifax forward Michael Ostick.

On top of that, young forward Sam Hopkins also committed to the club.

“The squad is pretty much complete now,” said Chairman Keith Freer. “And we just need to sort out our Club Manager who will be in charge of football matters and promoting international events at the LSV.

“We have advertised that position, in line with UK Border Agency Guidelines, and both Richie Blackmore and Matt Adamson will be applying.

“They will then be considered alongside any other potential candidates and we will move on from there.

“Obviously it means the process drags on, but it is important we get this right and should Richie or Matt still be the stand-out candidates then the work visa would be the all important issue.”

With regard to the club’s fixtures, there is a spell from mid-July to mid-August when the LSV will not be available due to reseeding and with Swinton sharing the stadium.

That means that the problems of scheduling fixtures for the two clubs in is extremely sensitive. In the end Leigh have opted to play three of their home games on a Friday night to enable Swinton to play on the Sunday, but one of those games is the clash against Swinton on Good Friday. The other Friday games are Halifax and York.

Leigh’s spell on the road sees them play York, Hunslet and Keighley away before returning for that clash against Halifax.

The Northern Rail Cup quarter-final and semi-final fixtures will be played on the weekends of June 17 and July 8 respectively with the competition climaxing on Sunday, July 29 while the Co-operative Championships Grand Finals day will be on Saturday, October 30 and Premier Sports will be there to broadcast all the drama as both league competitions come to a close.

As in previous years, the Northern Rail Cup group stages will be played in two pools with all clubs playing two home games and two away games against teams in their pool.

The top four teams in each pool following the conclusion of the group stage fixtures will then progress into an open, un-seeded draw for the knock-out quarter-final stage

l THE 2012 Leigh Centurions home kits have started to arrive at the club’s town centre outlet.

Toddler mini kits – which consist of shirt, shorts and socks – are now in stock with larger size shirts expected soon.

You can buy your mini kit – and pre-order your home shirt – at Jitterbugz, 12 Railway Road, Leigh.

Call 01942 603004 for more information.

l Tommy Sale’s date at the Palace – page five