Centurions’ prop Maria out for months

Antoni Maria in action against Leeds. Photo: Paul McCarthy
Antoni Maria in action against Leeds. Photo: Paul McCarthy

Antoni Maria is the latest player to be struck by Leigh’s Super League injury curse.

he French forward came off during Leigh’s defeat against Leeds on Friday and he is expected to be missing for around four months with a pectoral problem.

The players are paid to make the right decision at the right time and we were disappointed not to win

Neil Jukes

Centurions lost Gregg McNally and James Clare to long-term injuries sustained during preseason while Micky Higham hasn’t played this year because of a calf injury.

There’s also a question mark over Gareth Hock who managed just 13 minutes against Leeds before being forced off with a dead leg while Glenn Stewart is likely to be missing for a fortnight with a rib injury.

Leigh are still waiting for their first Super League win of the season having been pipped by the Rhinos at the Sports Village last time out, 14-17. It gets no easier for Neil Jukes’ men with St Helens making their first ever trip to the LSV on Friday.

While disappointed to lose on Friday, Jukes says he was pleased with the improvement in his side’s performance from the heavy opening weekend defeat at Castleford.

“We are going to be in some tight games with fine margins,” said Jukes. “So when we are presented with those plays we’ve got to nail them.

“The players are paid to make the right decision at the right time and we were disappointed not to win.

“But we lost Gareth Hock early on and Jamie Acton was sin binned so we are doing it tough. We are missing the experience of people like Micky Higham and Glenn Stewart not playing but some of the younger players like Ryan Hampshire – who played at nine and on the wing – did really well.

“I also thought Ben Reynolds ripped them apart from 30 minutes and Sam Hopkins made his Super League debut. We should have won the game.”

Despite his disappointment, Jukes is adamant that his players are learning lessons about life among the game’s elite after 12 years in the Championship.

Jukes said: “We have got to get away from these five-minute spells when we concede quick tries.

“In general, we smartened a lot of things up and while our attack was a bit off I thought we had some real good whack in us.

“Last week we spoke about not just working hard in defence but also challenging the opposition with the ball which we didn’t do at Castleford.

“When you can do that the opposition gets a bit more fatigued and chances come.

“I’m happy we stayed in the game for so long against a quality team like Leeds. We are learning lessons along the way without doubt - we are not a million miles off.”

Given this latest injury blow, it looks like Leigh will recall Lachlan Burr and Dayne Weston from their dual reg partner club Sheffield. Both played in their defeat at Halifax on Sunday.

St Helens were without a game last week so will be relatively fresh for the trip up the East Lancs. In their only game of the season they beat Leeds 6-4 at the Totally Wicked Stadium.