Jukes: Playing for our futures

Micky Higham is hoping to return to the side from injury
Micky Higham is hoping to return to the side from injury

With just two games of the Super 8 qualifiers remaining, Leigh coach Neil Jukes knows there can be no room for error as the club strives to retain its Super League Status.

On Friday, Leigh take on Halifax at the Sports Village and the following week go to London. Two wins against the Championship sides should see Leigh in the Million Pound Game least but as last weekend’s results prove, there’s a lot more twists and turns to come and the third spot still isn’t beyond them despite just two wins in the qualifiers.

“Every game’s a must win,” said Jukes, who saw his side produce a determined performance at Warrington but were edged out by a late penalty, losing 32-30.

“You’re always playing for something whether it’s a top three finish or to get in the Million Pound Game. I’m just focused on what we’re doing.

“When I walked in our dressing room after the game all I could see was the players’ skulls. I told them I wanted to see their faces and get their heads up because no-one else is going to feel sorry for us. It’s as simple as that.”

With Hull KR and Warrington now guaranteed Super League spots next season, the third spot remains up for grabs.

Widnes have six points and currently hold that spot but only by a superior points difference of 22 on fourth placed Catalans.

Next come Leigh on four points while London – who still have to play the Centurions – are on three.

Featherstone (one point) and Halifax (no points) are mathematically not out of it but let’s just say they need snookers.

Leigh will be hoping Hull KR can do them a favour by beating Catalans on Friday while Saturday’s match sees Widnes host London. Jukes is hoping to have hooker Micky Higham back after illness kept him out of the game at Warrington while half-back Ben Reynolds is available again after serving a one-match ban.

It could be Leigh’s final home game of the season but their recent LSV form has been poor with defeats in the qualifiers to Hull KR and Widnes.

“We’ve got to get better in certain areas,” said Jukes. “But there are things we’ve talked about that we are still not getting it right.

“We are there to be shot at as a Super League side. We know what it’s like to be a Championship side going into those games against Super League clubs with nothing to lose and we have got two coming up. Hopefully, we can brush ourselves down and have come through the week with no big injuries and get ready for two big games and get ourselves ready for what could be a nervy 80 minutes.

“It’s an incredible situation you find yourselves in when you’re fighting for your jobs and that has an effect. Against Warrington we found ourselves hanging in there.

“We came through some adversity and we were within touching distance at half time. We grew into the game in the second half.

“There were a lot of good things across the board but we needed to do better at certain things.”