Leigh Centurions are pulling out all the stops to patch up their side for Friday night’s table topping Cooperative Championship clash with Featherstone Rovers.
It’s yet another game that Leigh coach, Paul Rowley will use to gauge the progress of his side of the season, but it will also be seen by many as a dress rehearsal for the Northern Rail Cup semi-final between the two clubs in just over two weeks’ time.
Having said that, Rowley is quick to point out that he does not subscribe to that theory.
“We take everything one game at a time,” he said. “Friday is the Championship and before we even think about playing Featherstone again – or the Northern Rail Cup – we have to go to Batley in the league.
“The only focus we will have is this Friday’s game and, although we are very bruised and battered, we are all looking forward to what will be another great test for us.
“We do take plenty of confidence from last Sunday’s win against Batley, not least because we feel we won comfortably enough with a good 10 to 15 per cent still in the tank. We feel we can still improve a great deal on what we showed against Batley, and we will need to.
“Our next three games are Featherstone at home, Batley and then Featherstone both away, and they are as challenging as we can get in this hugely competitive division.”
But as Rowley looks to prepare his troops for the quick turnaround, he is already foreseeing a week whereby training may have to be put on the backburner.
“The early assessment is that we may have to do a lot of work in the swimming baths as players are too knocked about to get on the field,” he said.
“Steve Maden, Michael Ostlick, Tommy Goulden and Jonathan Pownall are all under intense treatment. John Duffy is not responding to treatment for his back injury and is highly unlikely to be available for Friday.
“But the lads have shown plenty of resilience in the past, and they are all desperate to put a short on. If they don’t make it, well, Dean McGilvray is fit again and eager to get back in the side and Anthony Nicholson and Steve Nash are champing at the bit, too. Everybody wants to hold on to their places and not let them go.”
Rowley also wanted to pay tribute to the re-formed Leigh Past Players Association and the guard of honour that they presented prior to the game against Batley.
“It was fantastic and the players really appreciated the gesture,” he said. “It made our players realise what it means to play for the club.”
Leigh’s game against Featherstone in that Cup semi-final at Post Office Road, is not yet finalised but a Thursday game, televised on Premier Sports does look the most likely scenario.