Leigh Centurions: Club won’t run reserves side next year

Cameron Pitman will be on loan at Barrow again in 2016. Photo: KingsPix.
Cameron Pitman will be on loan at Barrow again in 2016. Photo: KingsPix.
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Leigh say they will not field a team in the 2016 reserves league and have voiced concerns about the current competition format.

The decision has been made by the directors in conjunction with the coaching staff.

Reserves head coach Paul Anderson met with the reserves players on Tuesday evening to outline and explain the decision.

Leigh head of rugby Derek Beaumont says the club will now channel its efforts into the first team as they aim for promotion to Super League next year.

He said: “The Reserves have had two good seasons since I returned to the club, winning the league on both occasions and the Grand Final last year, only to narrowly miss out in the dying seconds of this year’s Final and everybody associated with that should be extremely proud.

“Unfortunately, without being disrespectful, the competition didn’t really have enough teams and it was hard to make a complete season. The reserves area is currently in transition with some of the Super League clubs looking to run with the old style reserve team structure. We have been involved in discussions relating to this and were honoured to be invited to compete within that format. However, that will be an extremely tough competition and one that at this present time we couldn’t do justice.”

Mr Beaumont added: “The alternative to that, continuing as this year, wasn’t an option that we felt provided us with what we would have needed, in particular bringing back rested or injured players. A number of our reserves players have attracted attention from Championship and Championship One clubs who are offering them contracts and it would be wrong to prevent them from taking those opportunities to play a higher level of rugby.

“I am fully aware of the need to build a club from the bottom up with academies and scholarships and internally we are assessing the viability of the three RFL academy structures moving forward. As an aspiring Championship club knocking on the door of Super League we need to assess the best medium to long term pathway, rather than ticking a short term box which has often been proven to limit the development of our younger players whilst also hindering the local community game which is so important to us.

“The youngsters we felt were the most promising in terms of making our first grade were given full-time contracts and are on loan where we maintain an interest in them. To this end Cameron Pitman, Chris Hankinson and Jamie Tracey are all on season long loans to Barrow Raiders in 2016. We will certainly keep our eyes on those players that now have to look elsewhere and those that have already been offered contracts in the professional game.”

Beaumont accepted that the decision would not go down well but added: “Sometimes in life and business you have to take tough decisions that won’t always be popular but what is important is that you make the right one for the business at that time, removing all emotion and that I believe is what we have done on this occasion.

“Paul Anderson will remain in his position in the coaching team with the first grade and spend more time on that aspect of the business whilst keeping in touch with the reserves level at Super League and if one continues in the Championship. That way when we are in a position to field a Super League reserves side he will be very much still well connected at that level.”