CENTURIONS TO START 2013 CAMPAIGN AT FEATHERSTONE

Leigh Centurions will begin their 2013 Co-operative Championship campaign with a tough trip to the 2012 beaten Grand Finalists, Featherstone Rovers on Sunday February 3.

It’s a revamped and expanded competition with 26 League fixtures from the 14 competing Championship sides that will battle towards a Grand Final climax to the season on September 29.

But it is not a way forward that brokers favour with Centurions Coach, Paul Rowley. “With 26 league games there are no weekends free,” he points out. “And should we reach the quarter final of the Challenge Cup, as we did last season, or that opening game at Featherstone is called off because of frost, where does it get rescheduled?

“On top of that the Thursday night games are not going down well with the clubs either. We are a part time competition and in this day and age players cannot easily get time off work to travel to the game and then arrive home at 1.00 or 2.00am. These things need to be assessed.

“But we are in the competitions and we will get on with it. It’s an old cliché, but we will focus on ourselves and let the rest worry if they wish.”

A restructured Northern Rail Cup competition also adds to the excitement of a season that kicks-off on Thursday, January 31 when 2012 Northern Rail Cup holders Halifax host defending Championship winners Sheffield Eagles in the opening league contest live in front of the Premier Sports cameras.

That will be the first of more than 30 live games which Premier Sports will broadcast throughout the course of the year with Leigh’s first appearance before the cameras being their trip to Whitehaven on Thursday, February 14, with a first home game against Hunslet, the previous Sunday.

The Easter clashes have Leigh away to Swinton on Good Friday and then at home to Workington on Monday, April 1. The final league game is on Sunday , September 1 when Leigh entertain Dewsbury at the Sports Village.

The Northern Rail Cup’s new format sees eight clubs from Championship One play in two groups from which the two top clubs will then go through to a straight knock out competition involving all 14 Championship clubs on the weekend of the May 18/19.

With regard to the Challenge Cup, Leigh will be in the third round which is played on the weekend of April, 6/7 and the Final is at Wembley on Saturday, May 24.

* Elsewhere Leigh have parted company with General Manager Richie Blackmore, who has announced that he is to step down from his role at the club and return to his native New Zealand.

* Leigh Centurions will launch their new 2013 home and away kits at 2pm this Friday.

Leigh chief executive Trevor Barton MBE, coach Paul Rowley, fans’ favourite Ryan Brierley and MP Andy Burnham will help unveil the new designs at the club’s Retail Unit in Leigh Market.

The following day, players will be on hand to sign calendars and Christmas cards and meet fans from 11.30am, again at the Retail Unit.