Leigh Centurions’ celebrations of a home Challenge Cup tie against World Club Champions Leeds Rhinos, was tempered by the news that the inspirational John Duffy will be out for a month.
The hugely influential half back has suffered damage to his A/C joint in the thrilling win over Halifax and will be out for at least a month, and that means he will miss this Sunday’s crucial Co-operative Championship trip to Sheffield Eagles.
“It’s the sweet with the sour!” said Centurions coach, Paul Rowley. “We knew Duffy was in trouble, yet you always hope for the best.
“But I cannot tell you how influential he is to us. He is the inspiration to the team and calls a great deal of our plays.
“It is a massive blow and both he and us, are gutted that he will miss Sheffield this weekend then Leeds the following week as well as a couple more games at least.
“I suppose the bright side would be if he was fit for the Cup Final!”
Of course Leigh’s home tie against Leeds Rhinos on the weekend of May 11, 12, 13 (it still had to be decided when going to press) is a huge potential boost for the club as they hope the LSV gets a monster crowd for a clash against the Super League and World Champions.
“I know a lot of Leigh fans were hoping for Wigan, but this is just as good a tie for us if not better,” explained Rowley. “They are World Champions with world stars across their team. Wigan would have been great but in football parlance we are playing the Brazil of our game.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to put ourselves up against the best in the world and see how we measure. We will be massive underdogs, but everyone in Leigh knows what has happened in a previous Cup clash when Leigh were also un-rated and who knows, we may be able to recreate history!”
But before anyone gets carried away Leigh have firmly got to plant their feet on the ground with a visit to Sheffield to play the Eagles for the second time this season.
“We went there in the Northern Rail Cup and were winning by 20 points only to lose to a last minute drop goal,” Rowley reflected. “They have three brilliant players in Misi Tulapapa, Quentin Laulu-Tongagae and Menzie Yere to complement a very good side indeed. It will be one heck of a tough game.”
Leigh will still have Ricky Bibey and James Taylor sidelined through injury, but they do have Steve Nash back at the club on a month’s loan from Castleford Tigers.
“He is here for a month and then it is week to week after that,” added Rowley. “We were without Tom Spencer and the opportunity came to get Steve back and we jumped at it.
“Whether we will have Tom available on Sunday remains to be seen and is dependent on whether Wigan want him.
“In the modern game you need three forwards on the bench and that has meant either Ryan Brierley or Anthony Nicholson have been stepping in for that fourth sub’s spot.
“For the past two Anthony has missed out, but he is playing so well when given his opportunity that it really is a case of him being rather unlucky as I have no hesitation in putting him in the side. Fortunately for us and unfortunately for him, Bob Beswick has been playing great too.
“But we have a lot of rugby still to play and our squad is depleted as it is through injury and everyone will get plenty of opportunity to shine.”