Leighw Centurions Hopkins

Sam Hopkins
Sam Hopkins

Leigh Centurions’ injury list is starting to grow, with in-form forward Sam Hopkins the latest casualty ahead of the home clash tonight (Thursday) against Keighley Cougars.

Hopkins has been in sensational form recently, ripping big holes in the opposition defences, but he picked up a medial ligament injury in last Friday’s thrilling victory over Halifax, and looks set to miss the rest of the season.

Leigh coach Paul Rowley said: “Sam has been one of our stand-out forwards.

“He has developed tremendously this season, and his keenness to learn and ability to take what he is learning into the games has made him even better.

“But his injury, following on to the injury sustained by Rob Parker, has taken away two of our key performers at a key stage of the season.

“It’s a blow, but one we will overcome.

“We are not a club that bemoans our misfortunes, and we will just get on with it and give it our best shot.

“The absence of some players has given others the opportunity to step up to the plate and show what they can do, and all season we have players doing just that.”

And that will be the case at Leigh Sports Village as Leigh take on Keighley Cougars in a rearranged game.

This was initially postponed because of Leigh’s involvement in the quarter-final of the Challenge Cup.

Leigh beat Keighley 26-0 at Cougar Park a couple of weeks ago, and although a win is the main priority, Centurions could also do with racking up the points to aid their bid for a second-placed finish.

A win would see Leigh move level with Halifax on 41 points, and with a superior scoring difference that will edge them ahead of their Yorkshire rivals.

And Halifax’s remaining league clash is against third-placed Batley on September 2, the same day as Leigh take on Swinton Lions in an away game that sees the Leigh team still playing at the LSV.

Of course, there can still be a few twists and turns in the final battle for the all-important placings for the play-offs, but Rowley feels it is very much in Leigh’s own hands. He said: “It’s up to us. We need to win our remaining two games, and if we can maintain our points difference, then we can take that second spot. It is all up to us.

“Certainly Friday night’s win was a vital victory for us, and I was proud of the way the lads dug in and refused to let Halifax get on top.

“It was top effort, especially from our forwards who had to tough it out against the in-form side of the competition and National Rail Cup winners.

“Our last-gasp defence was exceptional at times, in a terrific game that I felt we deserved to win.”

In the meantime, Leigh have confirmed the re-signing of Greg McNally and Andy Thornley for next season.

“Greg is still only 21 but has been outstanding” added Rowley. “Andy has come back to league from union and really settled in well. Both will be great assets for next year.”

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