Leigh Centurions head to the home of arch rivals Wigan Warriors in the fourth round of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup on Friday night knowing that they need to pull off one of the biggest shocks in Cup history!
Wigan sit proudly at the top of Super League with a glittering array of international stars to call upon, whilst Leigh must haul themselves back from the horror of a 60-10 thrashing at the home of the Kingstone Press Championship leaders Halifax last Sunday.
It was the worst possible preparation for a game that the Leigh fans would dearly love to see their heroes, if not win, then at least give their historically biggest rivals a run for their money.
There were times in the past when a win over Wigan would see the rest of the season pale into insignificance, but the last time the two clubs played in the same League competition was 2005 and the Centurions ill-fated venture into Super League.
Never-the-less this is cup rugby, and in a winner takes all situation there is always the chance of an upset, no matter how remote last weekend’s results may make it seem.
“On the face of it, this game is a pretty daunting task,” admitted Centurions head coach Paul Rowley. “But if you turn that on its head it is also a massive opportunity to make amends for what was a pretty horrendous showing at Halifax.
“We had trained well all week for that game, but then looked lethargic in the warm-up and took that into the game with us. It was a very disappointing performance. Halifax played well, and you can’t take that away from them, but we didn’t put them under any pressure.
“But now the players have a chance to make amends by showing what they can do when taking on Wigan. It’s up to them to win back their pride.”
Leigh were without Tommy Goulden who suffered a recurrence of his hamstring problem when training on Saturday before the Halifax game and of course Martin Aspinwall is out with his ruptured bicep injury.
“We have a couple of other knocks too,” said Rowley. “Rob Parker and Jonathan Pownall both had to come off and we wait to see the extent of those injuries.
“If they don’t come through then obviously we will not be playing any dual-registered players from Wigan and therefore will be into our under 20s squad.
“But we remain positive. Wigan, we accept, are running red hot at the moment and they have some of the best players in the world. But we don’t need to get hung up on that. It is about what we do and how we can play.
“We have to put last week behind us and get on with it. The lads know their jobs and they know last week was unacceptable.
“The club says it is a big opportunity to boost finances, but as a coach and as player it is an opportunity to show you can match it with the best and that is what we intend to do on Friday night.”
Leigh had initially tried to get the game played on Sunday, but in the end Friday was the option that was taken. The game kicks off at 8pm at the DW Stadium.