Centurions sign four more on extended deals

Jake Emmitt of Leigh Centurions

Jake Emmitt of Leigh Centurions

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FOUR more Leigh players have signed improved contracts with the club.

Co-captain Oliver Wilkes, 33, has signed a one-year extension to keep him at Leigh Sports Village until the end of 2015 while fellow prop Jake Emmitt, 25, fullback Gregg McNally, 23, and winger Adam Higson, 26, have penned two-year extensions until the end of 2016.

Wilkes, Emmitt and McNally will all be on full-time contracts from December 2014; Higson will go full-time if the Club finishes in the top two positions in the Championship at the end of the current season, but the club have the option to award him a full-time contract irrespective of that.

Wilkes, who represented Scotland in the last two World Cups, is a vastly experienced player and approaching 400 career appearances since making his debut for Sheffield Eagles in 1998. He has extensive Super League experience with Sheffield, Huddersfield, Leigh, Wigan, Harlequins and Wakefield and has also played for Keighley, Whitehaven and Widnes. He re-joined the Centurions this season and was appointed co-captain with Stuart Littler.

Warrington born Emmitt, who represented Wales in the 2013 World Cup, made a combined total of 81 Super League appearances for St Helens, Castleford and Salford and also re-joined Leigh during the past winter, having enjoyed a successful loan spell with the Club in 2010.

McNally, who came to prominence with hometown Whitehaven as a teenager earned a full-time Super League contract with Huddersfield and represented England Academy. During his time with the Giants he was loaned back to Whitehaven and also played for Oldham and Barrow. He is now in his third season with the Centurions and has made the successful switch from halfback to fullback. McNally has already scored 79 tries and kicked 161 goals in 124 career club appearances and has also represented Cumbria and Ireland.

Higson turned professional from Leigh Miners Rangers and made his first-team debut against Celtic Crusaders in June 2008. He spent one season with Swinton Lions in 20-12 before re-joining the Centurions and has successfully battled back from a serious knee injury to claim a regular place on the wing.

“I’ve known Oliver a long time and played alongside him at Huddersfield and Leigh,” said coach Paul Rowley.

“He’s the sort of person who always gives 100 per cent at all times and his wealth of experience is invaluable. He is a good mentor to our younger players, particularly props Tom Spencer and Jake Emmitt.

“Jake is still young for a prop and has his best years in front of him. He’s low maintenance and a quiet achiever. He’s an exceptionally gifted player and a good guy, very level-headed and great to have around the place.

“Gregg also fits the mould of players we want to keep at the Club. People forget that he is only 23. He has fantastic ability and has been with us already for a few years.

“He’s part of a small group of players we have tried to nurture and we don’t want our association to come to an end soon. Gregg’s already a very good player but has the potential to become a great player.

“I was quick to bring Adam Higson back to the club from Swinton when the opportunity arose.

“Maybe his talents were less appreciated during his previous time at Leigh. He is well valued by myself and his team-mates and is a good athlete and another quality person.

“I must thank the support of the head of rugby, Derek Beaumont and the Board for making these signings possible on the back of recent deals handed out to Ryan Brierley, Martyn Ridyard and Tom Spencer. We are all concentrating on making this season as successful as possible for Leigh Centurions but are also planning for the future and there are other signings in the pipeline.”