Leigh forward Ricky Bibey has been forced to retire through injury.
It’s a huge blow to the 31-year-old powerhouse forward and to the club, as an Achilles injury picked up early this season has given him problem after problem to reduce his appearances to just a couple this season after making the side for just four games in 2011.
“It’s a terrific blow to us and to Ricky,” said Centurions coach, Paul Rowley.
“I can’t speak highly enough of his professionalism and commitment to the club and despite his obvious frustrations at being side-lined, he has continued to have nothing but a positive influence around the club and the players.
“But Ricky has a young family and his injury is such that it can severely affect his quality of life and interaction with his youngsters, and he has had to make the decision to retire.
“His influence on the pitch has been immense in his three spells at the club and he leaves a huge hole in our squad.”
Bibey is one of the few players to win a Challenge Cup as both a Wigan Warriors and a St Helens player as part of Wigan’s 2002 Challenge Cup-winning squad and then in Saints’ 2004 side. Bibey was also a member of the Leigh Centurions side that won the Northern Rail Cup in 2006 but was injured when the Centurions won the same competition again in 2011.
However he is not the only Leigh player struggling and James Taylor looks like he could be out for at least a month with a niggling knee injury.
“James has seen a specialist, and it may well be a cartilage problem,” said Rowley. “With some tough games coming up, the main thing is to get James fully fit and that means giving him as much time as is needed.
“We also have John Duffy still out with his shoulder injury, but he should be back for the French game, while Steve Nash should be fit for Dewsbury after missing the Hunslet game with a niggle.
“Steve is with us on a week-to-week loan basis now, and with such a small squad we obviously need everybody we can muster.”
Leigh saw off the challenge of Hunslet last week and now prepare for Dewsbury Rams on Sunday, with Rowley knowing that it will be a tough trip. “Whether you are top or bottom matters little when you play Dewsbury. You know you are in for a tough physical game.
“But we worked hard in training and although last week’s show against Hunslet was not up to our usual standards, it was not unexpected after the rigours and drama of the previous week’s cup game against Leeds.
“Against Hunslet we only had a 55 per cent completion rate and we are normally operating way above that. But Leeds is behind us now and we want to keep our challenge going as we head into a demanding spell.
“We have Avignon in the new Anglo-French Cup, and then Batley at home in the quarter final of the Northern Rail Cup, before playing the top sides in the Championship.
“The French game will be interesting and we hope our fans turn out in force to cheer us on. We will be at full strength, as we don’t have enough players to be otherwise, and of course we want to keep the momentum going for Batley and beyond.
“Of course we are always on the look out for new players, and our loan signings availability is crucial to us. But we will keep giving it our best shot and hopefully the fans will stick behind us.”
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