IT’S back to business for Leigh Centurions on Sunday – and coach Paul Rowley can’t wait for kick off.
“It has been a long preseason but a lot of hard work has gone into it,” said the Leigh coach ahead of Sunday’s first game of the season against Batley.
“Then the real business gets under way and soon we will be back in the week to week routine and hopefully gaining momentum.”
Recent changes to the structure of the Rugby Football League have restored promotion and relegation giving this season added significance for clubs like Leigh who harbour Super League ambitions.
They are changes which have the support of Rowley and the club administrators.
“Hopefully the new structures will see people come back to the Championship if they are looking for meaningful competition,” said Rowley.
“I’m expecting the usual suspects – Halifax, Sheffield, Batley and Featherstone – to be leading the way but I think we might be looking at some new names in 2014 like Dewsbury, Whitehaven and Workington.”
Leigh’s preseason programme was hit by the cancellation of a friendly at Halifax last Sunday because of a waterlogged pitch at The Shay, denying them the chance to pick up a first friendly win of the season.
Despite that winless run, Rowley is content with his preparations and the squad he has assembled.
“In the last two years I’ve been happy with the quality of the squad,” he said.
“We’ve just lacked numbers so have moved to address that. That will give us that extra 10-15 % we need to be the top team and in with a fighting chance at the end of the year.”
Sunday’s opponents Batley ended Leigh’s season in 2013 with a dramatic Golden Point success at the Sports Village.
They are a team that Rowley regards highly.
“Batley ended our play-off dreams last year,” he said. “They have recruited well and have a solid dual registration agreement with Huddersfield.
“Batley are a top team. They reached the Grand Final last year so effectively finished the competition as runners up.
“History tells us it’s never an easy game and Batley have a good record at the Sports Village.”