Jukes: Confidence high ahead of kick-off

Neil Jukes
Neil Jukes

Neil Jukes says his players are full of confidence ahead of the new Super League season after a successful warm weather training camp in Lanzarote.

The Leigh coach is preparing his squad for an intriguing looking warm-up game against Wigan at the Sports Village this Sunday. Jukes is promising to field a strong side for the visit of the reigning Champions in a game which doubles as a testimonial for Warriors hooker Micky McIllorum.

But it will be a strong team and hopefully Shaun Wane will be doing the same and send a first choice side

Neil Jukes

“It was a very good experience in Lanzarote,” confirmed Jukes. “We achieved exactly what we wanted to and there is a lot of confidence in the camp. We have new coaches and a lot of new players and everything was very positive.”

After enjoying the winter sunshine it is back to reality for the Leigh camp and a more ‘normal’ week with the incentive of a game at the end of it.

Jukes explained: “This week will help give us an idea of a typical week during the season. Whoever doesn’t play against Wigan will get a game against Dewsbury the following Sunday.

“I’m not going to name a massive squad for the game against Wigan, that’s not what this game is about.

“But it will be a strong team and hopefully Shaun Wane will be doing the same and send a first choice side. We will have a lot of players making their debuts and they are all looking forward to 
it.

“There has been a lot to celebrate for both teams in the past few months with us being promoted and Wigan winning the Grand Final. In many ways this will be a chance for fans of both teams to celebrate those achievements.”

Centurions have an impressive record against Wigan in preseason games and traditionally it has acted as a showcase for some young players. But Jukes expects a tough test either way.

“Whatever side Wigan bring it will be full of hungry players looking to take their chance with the new season being so close,” said Jukes. “I know Shaun (Wane) would have been working his lads hard in pre-season. There will be a good atmosphere and hopefully a decent crowd with the added spice of us now being in the same division for the first time since 2005.”

Leigh added James Clare to their squad on the eve of the preseason trip and Jukes has been impressed with the former Bradford winger. “It was important that we signed him before the trip,” said Jukes. “I have been impressed with his attitude and he has shown some nice touches in training. He has genuine pace and a good skill set and is also knowledgeable about the game. He has good habits which come from being at good clubs.”