LEIGH Centurions begin their 2012 pre-season preparation on Saturday with a trip to Salford City Reds new Barton ground.
This ‘friendly’ clash kicks off at 2pm and is the first competitive game for the Super League outfit at its new home, while for Leigh’s caretaker coach, Paul Rowley and his staff it is the first opportunity for them to have a look at the freshly assembled squad in action.
After the rollercoaster ride of 2011 that saw a magnificent first half of the season followed by the battle for survival in the latter half of the year, it will be good to get into action and Rowley is looking to give as many of his players as possible, a good run out. But there will be notable absentees.
“Stuart Littler, Michael Ostlick and Jimmy Taylor will be unavailable,” said Rowley. “But the good news is that Ricky Bibey will be having a run out along with our new signings Matt Gardner, Adam Clay, Rob Parker, Tommy Gallagher and Chris Gerrard.
“As yet we have not secured Ryan Brierly on loan from Castleford so he won’t be playing, but those players that are available are all fired up for the game and looking forward to it.
“Training without a game is always tough so the run out will suit us just fine. We then have two more friendlies – the first against Halifax on the 22nd and then the following Friday against Wigan and both those games will be at the LSV.
“We still need a few players to pull into our squad for then and we are working on that. It is tough but everybody is determined to work hard and we will be very competitive for when the season starts.”
Gardner, Clay and Parker have all played for Salford in the past and will be relishing the opportunity to play against former team mates. But the pressure will be on Salford ultimately especially as new head coach Phil Vievers looks to show he is the right man for the job by delivering a successful team at the new stadium.
The Leigh game at Barton has a restricted capacity so fans are urged to pre-purchase their tickets and car-parking as soon as possible to avoid delivery issues and to speed their access to the stadium when they arrive.
Elsewhere, the Centurions continue their quest to secure the services of a new General Manager with former New Zealand International, Richie Blackmore and ex-Australian international Matt Adamson viewed among the front runners.
In the meantime, Chief Executive, Trevor Barton MBE has revealed that the club is looking to give the fans representation on the Board of management.
Writing in his Christmas and New Year message to the fans he stated: “LISA have been simply magnificent” in reference to their support throughout 2011,
“Linda (Sykes) deserves all the plaudits going but they are not complacent and are seeking to widen their membership.
”We are looking to increase the Board in the New Year and LISA will surely have a representative on it.”
l Leigh will reveal their 2012 away kit in Saturday’s game at Salford.
The design has been kept a closely guarded secret but Centurions will play in the new strip for the first time this weekend.
Supporters can pre-order the new shirts, manufactured by kit supplier O’Neills, from the club’s new town centre merchandise outlet – Jitterbugz at 12 Railway Road, Leigh. They will be in store later this month.
A new polo shirt – inspired by the new away shirt design – will go on sale at Jitterbugz this Saturday.
Call 01942 603004 for more information.