Apologies for the absence of a column last week, I missed the deadline that had been moved.
One thing I was going to mention last week, however, was the support of the Championship clubs.
We are in the process of putting together what we consider to be a competitive Super League side with the Super League cap – irrespective of which division we are inDerek Beaumont
Last week we had a healthy 3,503 watch our victory over Featherstone. This figure was greater than the combined total attendance of the other five games which was 3,268 according to the individual club attendances published.
Admittedly that is a different picture when Bradford are at home who are well supported as seen by their circa 4,600 crowd for the visit of Batley. Both Bradford and ourselves have a very strong away following which is always welcomed by the other Championship clubs for obvious reasons, but I do think that as a whole the sport needs to generate more interest outside of Super League.
I’m afraid I don’t have the magic answers and can only control our club’s position, which is on the up – for which we are grateful to our loyal fans. But we must keep working hard to encourage more to support us from the town.
This week’s news has rightly been dominated by the sad passing of Ronan Costello, who is a huge loss to the rugby league family.
At a time when people were perhaps starting to slowly overcome the effects of the loss of Danny Jones, the sport again has to come together for a tragic loss. All our thoughts and prayers from everybody at Leigh Centurions are with the family and friends of Ronan, but also I would like to spare a thought for the young man who was involved in the tackle. He must be in an horrendous place in need of support that I am sure the sport and his own family and friends will afford him.
It always impresses me how the whole game comes together in times like these, and that was demonstrated by a minute’s applause around the grounds. This was even observed at my son’s club, Golborne Parkside, at the under 7s game which shows how respectful the game is to its core.
Talking of junior rugby on Saturday, I visited the Leeds Rhinos foundation’s festival of rugby at Cala Gran Holiday Park (interestingly, one of my customers) to support my brother’s girlfriend’s son, Harley, who plays for West Bowling’s under 12s.
Harley, along with his team-mates, played very well and what stood out to me far and above the other two sides wasn’t necessarily the quality of players but the way in which they were coached.
They were a very well-drilled side who played some very nice expansive rugby as well as the tough stuff in the middle, and if I was a betting man I would stick a couple of quid on their 9 and 13 making something of themselves in the game of rugby league.
Not surprisingly over the two days they won all five games, seeing them deservedly crowned as champions.
Boy I do have to admit it did feel strange supporting a Yorkshire side for the day!
Well, ‘mission one accomplished captain Jukes’ was my message to Neil from Wales early Sunday evening after the victory over Workington.
That victory meant that with five games still to go we are guaranteed a place in the top-four, which was the first objective set for him.
That is a great position to be in at this stage, although it doesn’t end there and Sunday’s tough trip to London will certainly play a part in the likelihood of accomplishing mission two!
However it was a rather subdued Neil that I spoke to whom, despite a 54-12 victory in poor conditions without a recognised No.9, was beating himself up that we need to do better.
That in itself is encouraging and is in no way disrespectful to Workington, who themselves have some good players and are a big set, and the likes of Jarrod Sammut can always pull something out of the bag.
What it is, is a sign of the times of where this club has come to and how committed Neil and his coaching team are to the cause along with their knowledge of what lies ahead and what level of performance will be necessary to achieve that. Paul Anderson has really come to the fore this year and took on that increased responsibility expressing himself and his positive attitude. Some of the signs I have seen put up around the place by him have created a good feel, most notably the one on the entrance door to the player room simply stating, ‘No bad attitudes allowed’, and my favourite behind his desk, ‘A bad attitude is like a flat tyre, you can’t get anywhere until you change it!”
Paul Cooke has also been a welcomed addition to the team and has got stuck straight into the role with great ease and comfort.
I raised a smile with the boys during one of his impressive video sessions when he was questioning what play selection had been made having been told a certain play wasn’t on to which he responded, “I like Carling, but if it isn’t on it doesn’t mean I’m not having a beer - I just choose another one!”
Good banter and it’s great to see that despite the raising of the intensity and professionalism that there is still fun to be had.
Neil has had a real tough time this year and had some really tough and arguably unpopular decisions to make, but he has been strong and true to himself and has my full support in everything he does.
He succeeds or fails on his own decisions and he will only be successful being true to his beliefs and that takes some courage.
Lastly we also saw this week the news surrounding the departure of Keiron Purtill from Huddersfield Giants after the dismissal of Paul Anderson.
I have been asked numerous times does this mean Keiron is immediately joining us - the answer to which is ‘no’. KP has been put on gardening leave which effectively means he cannot work during the period of his contract.
He will utilise the time to clear up some niggles with his body and to take a rare summer holiday with his family - something members of the rugby league fraternity rarely experience.
Whilst he does that I will take some legal advice on his contract and the gardening leave aspect of it, as if the only consequence of it is the financial loss to KP for joining us early then it may be a sound investment from me to bring him in to his role to immediately strengthen our coaching team just ahead of the Super-8s.
Watch this space!
I see we made the Australian newspapers again this week, which is no bad thing – although I do prefer it when we can avoid speculation.
However, given it’s out there it is appropriate for me to comment on the situation.
We agreed a three-year deal with Nathan Ross after he had been given permission to look around for his future. He was really excited and looking forward to getting over, so much so that he wanted to get involved right away in the battle to gain Super League.
Again the connection of Dayne Weston and, this time, also Travis Burns gratefully assisted.
However, when Nathan approached his club to be released he was told that would not be happening, and that indeed they now wanted to take advantage of the option in their favour for the following year which he obviously found frustrating.
Nathan still has a strong desire to join us but unfortunately that is well out of my hands, so I will just have to sit tight and watch this space.
Elsewhere on recruitment I see more of our players are linked with the Toronto Wolfpack, which is causing a stir among some. I am sure they will formally announce their signings at the appropriate times but I would urge our fans to be patient and trust what we are doing.
We are in the process of putting together what we consider to be a competitive Super League side with the Super League cap – irrespective of which division we are in, and are aware of what we need to do to achieve that.
Players come and go from every club and I am sure those heading to Toronto or wherever it may be will still want to achieve promotion to be part of something special, just as the Super League players we have already agreed terms with want to achieve their goals with their current clubs.
Players are professional and it happens every year, as fans we still need to support them to the very end in the job they are doing and respect them for doing it, and I would respectfully request our fans to do that which I know they will.