IN DEMAND half backs Ryan Brierley and Martyn Ridyard have given Leigh Centurions a huge boost by signing new three year contracts.
Speculation at the weekend linked Brierley with a move to Super League side Salford Red Devils.
But in a defiant statement of intent, Leigh have moved swiftly to keep hold of one of the hottest young talents in rugby league.
Likewise, Ridyard, as one of the most consistent performers outside Super League, was on several Championship clubs’ wish lists for 2015.
“Our focus is on retaining our best players and creating a stable cub,” said Leigh coach Paul Rowley.
“Ryan and Martyn fall into that category and I am delighted they want to stay at Leigh.”
Brierley has scored 12 tries in four games this season including five in one game at Barrow.
“Ryan is a pleasure to coach,” said Rowley. “He is an ambitious player and a good person with a great family behind him.
“He is a star and someone we can build a club around.”
The signing of Ridyard was just as important to the club says Rowley.
“If I said I was releasing Martyn from his contract every single club in the Championship would want him,” he said.
“There is a bit more pressure on him to deliver as a Leigh lad but he’s an unbelievable player.”
Leigh’s head of rugby Derek Beaumont believes the signings show how the club is already planning for the long term. He has also said if the club finishes in the top two this season Leigh are looking to go full-time for 2015.
“We are trying to build a strong club and securing players of the quality of Ryan and Martyn on long term contracts is part of that.
“Our focus in on finishing in the top two because of the financial rewards that brings and as a club we are confident we can achieve that.
“If we secure a top two finish we can look to create a full time environment.
“We’ve got a good mix of youth and experience at Leigh at the moment and have started the season extremely well.”
Beaumont confirmed there had been interest from Super League clubs in Brierley because of his prolific scoring start to the season.
“We have a vision for Ryan and he shares that with us,” said Beaumont.
“We value him highly and have moved to reward him accordingly.
“His combination with Martyn is crucial to the team and they have a great relationship.
“I think Martyn is an under-rated player who has a great football brain. He is someone who would flourish in a full-time environment.”