Leigh Gossip

Sam Hopkins
Sam Hopkins

Leigh Centurions could be without powerhouse prop forward Rob Parker for up to a month.

Parker broke his finger in last Sunday’s victory at Hunslet which kept the Centurions on track for a top four finish that Coach Paul Rowley believes could be even higher.

“We are not ruling out the possibility of finishing as high as second,” he said. “We just have to keep winning, and see if the rest slip up. If they do then we will be able to take advantage – as long as we are winning.”

Leigh play tonight (Thursday) away at Keighley Cougars, a side that is also hotly pursuing a play off place, and Leigh are well aware of the difficulties of a midweek game so soon after a Sunday clash.

“But unlike the Northern Rail Cup Final we did have a week off before the Hunslet game and the lads all felt pretty refreshed because of it.”

Leigh played well in a game of two halves, registering a 32-0 interval lead before what can only be described as a tropical storm hit the South Leeds stadium.

“I have never seen anything like it,” said Rowley. “The place was flooded. It ruined the game as a spectacle and really was a great leveller.

“I am only glad we got our points on the board in the first half. Thankfully the game was completed. It would have been a real problem if it had been abandoned and we had to play it again.”

The up side was that the game was completed despite the conditions, but the down side was the injury to Parker and one to fellow prop Michael Ostick.

“Michael took a knock but hopefully he will come through,” added Rowley. “But Rob’s broken his finger badly and it could take time to heal. Both have been playing exceptionally well and Rob’s loss will be a real blow to us as he gives so much to the team. But we should get Tom Spencer for Thursday’s game and Craig Briscoe is available again, so we will not be short of bodies.

“James Taylor came back and looked strong and our pack generally was in good form. We have the run in to the play offs now, and a couple of tough games with Keighley away, Halifax at home and Keighley and then Swinton still to play. But they are all winnable if we apply ourselves and if we do that, then we can see where it gets us.

“Sheffield may be a point above us, but we have a game in hand, but that is all academic if we do not keep winning ourselves. That is our focus. We want to finish as high as we can, and then the play-offs are a different ball game.

“We fear nobody in this competition, and we are determined to create a few upsets and battle our way forward. We will give ourselves the best chance of success, if we continue to win. It’s as simple as that!”

• Leigh have extended the contract of back rower Sam Hopkins by a further 12 months.

The 22-year-old has been a key part of Leigh’s pack this season, and has come on in leaps and bounds as he settled down into providing the consistent performances that are required at this level, much to the delight of Rowley.

He said: “Sam has come a long way since he signed for us two years ago.

”He is a player who is keen to learn and to put that learning into practice. He has all the attributes and has a good future ahead of him if he continues in this vein. We are delighted to sign him up for a further 12 months and look forward to his valuable contribution helping us to success.”