Leigh travel to Batley in their Kingstone Press Championship opener on Sunday with opposing coach John Kear admitting to a “make do and mend” preparation to the season.
Like many teams Batley have fallen foul of the elements with other training venues being sourced by the club.
“We feel that we’ve made the best of a tough situation because of the weather.” Kear said, “We are in a good place, we feel we’ve prepared well and we feel as if we are ready for round one.”
He describes the visit of the Centurions as “the ultimate test”.
“If you ask anyone or ask the bookies who aren’t happy parting with their money, Leigh are obviously the favourites for the competition and with the quality of their player roster, so they should be. I’m looking forward to round one, so that we can really see where we are, then I think we will be able to gauge realistically where we can aim for in this coming season.”
Batley have brought in three top Championship performers from Sheffield in Dominic Brambani, Pat Walker and James Davey, described as “quality signings” by the experienced Kear. “They have had a great impact on the club. During training they have brought that elite Championship player professionalism to some of our younger players, and they have been learning off them, but also in our trial games they have fitted in really well.”
Kear has been particularly impressed with the reaction of halfback Cain Southernwood. “He’s answered the questions that I posed to him because I told Cain that I’d brought two new halfbacks in and my intention was to play Brambani and Walker at 7 and 6 initially. He has responded and now I’ll find it very difficult to leave him out so I may have to now mix and match to make sure Walker plays somewhere else. That’s what I wanted, that’s the response as a coach you want from your squad.”
“We feel that we’ve got a real group of confident, competent players who have worked really hard in coming together as a group and are relishing the challenge that’s coming up.”
“People go on about Leigh, but it isn’t just them, you’ve got London, you’ve got Sheffield, you’ve got Bradford who are full time as well. You’ve also got Featherstone and Halifax who have spent a considerable amount of money on their squads. It’s a high quality division.”