Penkywicz at the heart of Leigh’s charge to the top

Leigh's Sean Penkywicz goes over for a try. Photo: Brian King
Leigh's Sean Penkywicz goes over for a try. Photo: Brian King

SEAN Penkywicz has been one of Leigh’s stand-out performers during their amazing charge towards the Kingstone Press Championship Leaders Shield.

The hooker is one of those prized players who has the ability to turn a game on his own. Whether it be a delicate grubber kick to the in-goal, a short ball from dummy half or even a dive for the try-line.

Tomorrow Leigh can seal top spot with a win over second placed Featherstone Rovers at the Sports Village.

“I’m really enjoying my rugby at the moment,” he said. “Our winning run was brilliant and we were disappointed to lose it at Doncaster. But in one way it has made us refocus and now we are determined to finish top and win the Grand Final.

“We bounced back with a good defensive display against Keighley but the attack was lacking a bit. Then at Rochdale and Batley we turned in a real 80 minute performance and scored some great tries.”

Penkywicz was high on the list when Leigh started offering full-time contracts for 2015. Working in tandem with Bob Beswick at hooker this year, Penkywicz has been in sparkling form and a regular pick in the Kingstone Press Championship team of the Week.

“There is a great team spirit here and a lot of local lads, many of whom I’ve played with or against during my career,” he said. “I admit that last year it probably took me six months to get used to things at Leigh with a new coach in Paul Rowley and different training drills. But after so long at Halifax, that’s not really surprising.”

The 32-year-old Leigh born former Leigh East junior joined his hometown club from Halifax after the 2012 season. He made a total of 88 Super League appearances for Halifax and Huddersfield between 2000 and 2005 and has also represented Wales at international level.

Prior to joining Leigh he was consistently one of the outstanding players in the Championship for Halifax and he went through the 300-game career milestone earlier this season, having passed the 100-tries mark during 2012.

This year Penkywicz has been a key player during Leigh’s record breaking run but he says the Tetley’s Challenge Cup quarter final defeat against Leeds still bugs him.

“We ran Leeds, one of the best teams in Super League so close,” he said. “I still think we could have won that game and it was so disappointing when they got home at the end.”

He played for both Leigh Miners and Leigh East as a junior and has great memories of watching his dad Phil play for East at the old Grasmere Street ground.

“I suppose you could say I crossed the border,” laughs Penkywicz. “It’s unusual for people to play for Miners and East. I started in at Miners but at school I had a teacher called Dave Jones who was involved at Leigh East and of course my dad played there.”

“I originally signed Penky to add an X factor to our team and he has not disappointed,” said Leigh coach Paul Rowley. “I think after 12 months within our system, understanding what is expected from him at our club, he has become not only a game-breaker but a strong defender and a consistently high performer.”