Leigh Centurions’ quest for a replacement for Ian Millward seems set to run into the New Year.
That appears to be the scenario as last week former New Zealand international Richie Blackmore flew in for a meeting with club officials and then spoke at the fans forum, and on Tuesday of this week Matt Adamson was arriving from Australia to also hold talks with the club.
“We have a board meeting next Monday when hopefully we will be able to nominate our preferred candidate,” explained Acting Chairman, Keith Freer. “But even then we need to apply to the UK Border Agency to get them a work permit so nothing will be determined quickly.
“However, we must stress that it is important that we get the right man to oversee our Rugby League future and if that takes a little bit of time then so be it.”
In the meantime the Centurions continue to recruit with the club confirming the signings of former Wigan and Widnes back rower Chris Gerard, and the expected season long loan deal for Castleford halfback Ryan Brierley.
“Chris is definitely with us, with regard to Ryan, it is a matter of how long the loan will be for that we are sorting out,” added Freer. “On top of that we have offered new contracts to our talented young players Sam Hopkins and Jonathan Pownall, and both are seemingly set to sign.
“We have also resigned John Duffy, so that is god news too. Elsewhere we have been talking to Richard Varkulis and Mark Calderwood and are hopeful we can land them both.”
Unfortunately, last week the Centurions were forced to perform a U-turn over their reported signing of Andy Bracek after he denied that a deal was in place.
Bracek was unveiled by the club as a new capture alongside Matt Gardner, with the Centurions sending out a press release and posting the story on their official website.
But days later Bracek stated on his Twitter account that he had not in fact signed.
He wrote: “Just to be clear here.... I’ve not signed for Leigh Centurions.
“I would’ve loved to play for my hometown club but it was not to be.
“As for the announcement I’m not quite sure where the ‘penned a deal’ statement came from coz I hadn’t.”
Subsequently he has signed for Barrow, but Keith Freer is adamant that Leigh thought they had done a deal.
“We had agreed everything with his agent and he was supposed to sign before the Fans Forum last Wednesday. But mid afternoon I got a call saying he wanted more money and sadly that was that.”
Whilst Leigh continue to determine who will be their Football Manager the club is still searching for players to be part of the squad that the Centurions are hoping will be among the trophy challengers in the Championship, and that means recruitment advice from the present coaching staff.
“Paul Rowley and Nigel Jukes are the coaches running the show at the moment, and it is quite natural for them to make their recommendations until such time as either Matt Adamson or Richie Blackmore take up the post,“ said Keith. “But then again, their knowledge of the UK market would be limited anyway, so this is only preempting the way they would probably wish it to go.”
Leigh are keen to get either of the overseas men in charge, but whether that is as a coach or football manager seems something of a grey area.
In the meantime the club may have to re-advertise the position in order that both key candidates can express their desire for the coaching position rather than a football manager post and thereby enable both they and the club to satisfy UK Border Agency regulations if they decided they were still the best men for the job.
l Leigh Centurions have announced three friendlies ahead of the new season.
They will take on Halifax and Wigan Warriors at home and go to Salford’s new stadium at Barton.
Friendly fixtures: Sunday, January 8: Salford (A), Sunday, January 22: Halifax (H); Friday, January 27: Wigan (H).