Leigh Centurions players are giving up their potential Northern Rail Cup bonus in an effort to help the club through its financial difficulties.
At the end of a month that had seen Leigh lose their chairman and chief executive as well as their unbeaten record before finally suffering a three League point deduction for salary cap breaches, the news from the players will be a breath of fresh air for the beleaguered Leigh board as they stagger from one crisis to another.
Captain Stuart Donlan explained the players reasoning: “We wanted to show the fans that we are all in this together.
“And one way we could do that is by playing for our basic wage when we play Halifax at Blackpool in a couple of weeks time.
“We want to show the fans that we care just as passionately about the club as they do.
“The players held a meeting when we were in France last weekend, and we discussed how much the fans were getting behind us and how many more of them had signed up for LISA (Leigh Independent Supporters Association) in recent weeks.
“We talked about ways we could give our backing over and above trying to win games and trophies for them and it was suggested that we forego any bonus claims for the Cup Final. The players voted unanimously to put that to the board and take some pressure off them. It seemed obvious to all of us.”
Donlan admits that it has been a worrying time for the club, especially when it comes to the players being able to pay their mortgages, but in the end the best the players can do is keep winning for the fans and try and get them some silverware.
“Initially we were all more than a little concerned when the stories started to emerge,” said Donlan. “But we trust in Ian (Millward) and he has been the liaison between us and the board. He and the rest of the coaching staff are in this too – and they won’t be picking up bonuses either. We all agreed that we would keep doing the best we could and let the administration sort itself out.
“Hopefully it will all work out in the end.”
Leigh came back from France with three more valuable League points and a performance that had Millward enthusing about his side’s commitment.
“They were tremendous in the hottest conditions I have ever seen a rugby league game played,” he said. “Our back row was tremendous with Stuart Littler and Tommy Goulden both doing the full 80 minutes. Dave Mills went well too, but it was an all round top team show as we forced errors from Toulouse and defended really well.”
Leigh welcomed back Robbie Hunter-Paul and that was a bonus that Millward hadn’t considered earlier last week.
“Robbie got the all clear on Wednesday,” he revealed. “We didn’t expect it and thought he had another week to go. But he had been training with us and it was all about getting in some game time once the specialist was happy with him.
“Robbie let me know, and it was a case of him playing in France if he wanted to have a chance of making the Northern Rail Cup Final. He said he was up for it and he looked like he hadn’t missed a beat.”