Jukes: We’ll keep working hard

Neil Jukes: Photo. Paul McCarthy
Neil Jukes: Photo. Paul McCarthy

“Absolutely incredible.”

Two words from Centurions boss Neil Jukes that summed up the mood around the club following the exciting win against Huddersfield on Saturday.

That win confirms Leigh in one of the three automatic places in Super League next year without the need for a pressure cooker winner takes all play-off game.

While it would be easy to suggest that Leigh’s focus switches elsewhere, Jukes was keen to remain grounded.

“We’ve got to continue working hard in everything that we do,” he said. There is still a full training schedule in front of the Centurions as they prepare for the visit of Championship surprise package Batley Bulldogs this coming Saturday (3pm).

“We’ll be professional,” Jukes continued. “They are in on Wednesday then it’s the team run on Friday and really play with less pressure.

“It’s crazy isn’t it? Who’d have said that after five games we would not even need to go to a million pound game.”

Reflecting on a job well done against the Giants after a 48-40 win, he praised his squad.

“I said to the guys that whether you’ve been here five minutes, five games or 15 years it was about playing your best game in a Leigh Centurions shirt and from one to 17 they did,” he said.

“Then in the second half the momentum was always going to change but what we got in that second half was the gutsiest performance and that’s what it needed and to put 40-plus points on Huddersfield by half-time was electric, absolutely electric.”

The Qualifiers haven’t been a happy hunting ground for Batley so far, although they did get off the mark against Featherstone.

Last weekend they came up against Leeds and lost 32-0.

Jukes has no further injuries to contend with and Travis Burns, Ben Reynolds, Lee Smith, Tom Spencer and Lewis Foster are waiting in the wings.

Prop Jamie Acton still has one game of his ban remaining but will be eligible for selection against the Rhinos.

Jukes and Batley opposit John Kear were both named on the slate for Championship coach of the year and the Leigh boss was honoured to be nominated.

“It is an honour to be nominated. We’ve been part of the awards process in the past as a club and I want to acknowledge my magnificent backroom staff here.

“From Paul (Anderson) and Paul (Cooke) through to all the strength and conditioning guys and also our medical support and physios, any success is shared.”