Leigh Centurions boss John Duffy begins rebuilding

John Duffy has started work as Leigh head coach
John Duffy has started work as Leigh head coach

New Leigh coach John Duffy has set about building a squad for 2019 – turning to two familiar faces as his first signings.

Former Centurions Martyn Ridyard and Tom Spencer are the first names added to the playing rosta for next season and more will follow in the coming days.

They are unlikely to be the last ex-Leigh players making a return to the club with Jonny Pownall and Andy Thornley also tipped to sign up.

Duffy is intent on restoring some local pride to the club with a specific recruitment plan which seeks to tap into the high number of players who either started their careers at Leigh, or were born in Leigh but made their names elsewhere.

It’s a far cry from the big-spending, big name strategy bankrolled by Derek Beaumont which saw the club promoted to Super League in 2017.

Duffy will be assisted by his younger brother Jay as well as Paul Anderson and Micky Higham. All are former Leigh players with a determination to restore some pride in the Leigh shirt.

“I had a meeting with Ando and Micky and we are all in the same boat,” said Duffy. “Once you have played for Leigh it never leaves you.

“Having them on board speaks volumes and we all have a burning desire to get the club back to where it needs to be.

“I’d like to thank Derek (Beaumont) and the rest of the board for giving me this opportunity. I’ve come back twice before as a player and I was especially proud of what we achieved under

Derek in 2004 getting to Super League. That was an outstanding experience and we want to bring back those good times.

At the minute we are trying to rebuild the club and to do that we are going to concentrate on local players. Leigh lads who’ve played for the club before and who are coming home, Leigh

lads who have always wanted to play for Leigh and lads who want to come and play for me.

“I’ve been part of teams like that in the past where everyone is local and on the same kind of money and you can build a fantastic team spirit.

“It’s a one in a million experience being at Leigh and playing for the club and those fans you and you can’t let go of it.

“The fans and sponsors are vital to what we want to achieve here. Everyone in my street will be suddenly talking to me again. They are a special group of fans with the passion they have for the club.”

Duffy joins Leigh from Featherstone who finished a place above the Centurions in the Championship this season. He has also coached at Swinton and alongside Chris Chester in the Scotland national team.

"I am delighted to get John on board and continue with a home-grown coach which we had with Kieron (Purtill),” enthused Leigh owner Derek Beaumont.

“I know John extremely well from his playing days. He is extremely passionate about the town and people of Leigh and if you cut him in half it would say Leigh. Despite this, as much as it choked him, his professionalism showed through steering Featherstone to victory over us for the Shield and his ability to get the most out of people was demonstrated when they beat us.”