Maden back on board

Leigh Centurions' squad building for the 2008 National One season continued with the signing of Whitehaven winger Steve Maden and Halifax half-back Ian Watson.

It's Maden's second spell at the club after two years at Whitehaven while the much travelled Watson is a Welsh Rugby League International who has been successful at a number of clubs including Widnes and Salford.

"Steve was impressive for the past two seasons and in particular when he played with Leigh in Super League," said Centurions coach Darren Shaw.

"He is strong, quick and aggressive and can play a number of positions. I was surprised Leigh let him go in the first place, but he was desperate to come back to the club. He loves it here.

"Ian will give us more options too as he can play half back or hooker, and they are two more key players as we build a squad that Paul Rowley and myself feel will do well next season."

With Whitehaven hooker Aaron Smith and young prop John Hill signing up last week, and Dale Cardoza and Andy Hobson putting pen to paper before that, Leigh are starting to rebuild the nucleus of a squad that has seen a good number of last year's squad retained.

"Anthony Stewart was one of the first to re-sign," confirmed Shaw.

"And James Taylor, Adam Thomas, Adam Rudd and John Cookson were signed before the end of the season on extended contracts.

"Chris Giles and Dave McConnell have another year to go on their existing contracts whilst Dave Alstead has signed on the dotted line too.

"I think it is all starting to look pretty good, and we are talking to more of our players too as well as being in detailed discussions with others who are still involved with their present clubs.

"It would be fair to say that we feel the areas we have to address are in the back row where we could do with one or two more, an extra half back bad and outside back, and after that we are not too bad. Plus this week we will be talking to our under 21s about next season's contracts too.

"It is all looking pretty healthy and we are all feeling very optimistic for next year."

Leigh have lost Dana Wilson and Miles Greenwood to Halifax with Danny Halliwell's option not being taken up by the club.

Aaron Heremaia is seemingly headed to Widnes, although that has to be confirmed and Sam Butterworth and John Clough have been released. Chris Hough's loan spell is over, Mailangi Styles has returned to Australia and Damien Couturier and Seb Martins have flown home to France.

Leigh still need to sign another eight players or so to ensure they have a squad capable of sustaining a challenge throughout the rigours of a tough campaign, but they are much more advanced than they were 12 months ago.

l Former Leigh Centurions' record try scoring full-back Neil Turley underwent major surgery last week on the back injury that forced his premature retirement in 2005. The operation enabled the insertion of two artificial discs to help alleviate the severe back pain he had suffered over the past two years.

Still only aged 27, Neil will not play rugby league again but he is hoping to make a full recovery and be involved in the sport in some capacity. Fans everywhere will no doubt wish him a full and speedy recovery.

l Ian Millward will be back in Leigh for a sportsman's dinner on October 19 at Hilton Park.

The controversial Australian coach (pictured right) enjoyed a great spell with Leigh in 1997 and 1998 before heading to St Helens where he commanded an all conquering side. But after being sensationally by Saints, he joined arch rivals Wigan Warriors.

But Millward had jumped out of the frying pan into the fire and was sacked to be replaced by Brian Noble in mid-season 2006.

Now as the assistant coach at Queensland Cowboys, Millward is back in his second home of Leigh and ready for great night of stories and reminiscences.

The comedian is Jerry Thomas and MC Allan Rowley pulls it all together to make the four course meal an enjoyable affair.

Tickets are 30 per head. Tables of 10 booked before Friday, October 12 will receive a couple of complimentary bottles of house wine.

Contact Jane Smith or David Bradshaw at the club on 01942 743743 for further details.