Rowley confident Lions friendly will go ahead

Leigh Centurions' Matt Gardner
Leigh Centurions' Matt Gardner

Leigh Centurions are desperate for Friday night’s pre-season warm-up game against Swinton Lions to go ahead.

And there is no shortage of optimism that the game will be played.

“We have undersoil heating to ensure the pitch is playable,” explained head coach Paul Rowley.

“And the terraces have been protected from the snow by the stand roofs. Outside the ground the roads and footpaths have been gritted and hopefully that combination will result in the game going ahead.

“Both ourselves and Swinton are keen to get the game played, not only for the match practice but to get some revenue in to help the finances. And I think the fans had a good taster against Wigan and are eager to see more.”

Nevertheless with the match against Salford cancelled, Leigh are desperately short of game time intensity. Although the match against Wigan provided a good start to the build-up to the season, the Salford setback has left the game against Swinton as Leigh’s only chance of testing themselves before the season kicks off at Featherstone Rovers on February 3.

Yet, the inclement weather has aided Leigh’s cause in the most unlikely of ways.

“The snow has been a problem, but at least it meant a lot of our rivals have had their pre-season games called off too,” explained Rowley.

“So in real terms we are all in the same boat. If we can get the match against Swinton under way then we will be as well prepared as anyone.”

Leigh will be without injured backs Jonathan Pownall and Matt Gardner with Gardner being the most serious doubt.

“It’s typical really,” added Rowley. “Last season the backs were hardly hit by injuries so we bolstered our forwards to cover for such an event, and already we have two backs struggling. Matt took a bang on his neck against Wigan and it is just not clearing up. With Jonathan we are awaiting the results of a scan.

“But these things happen and we will get on with it.

“I will be giving our strongest side a run out on Friday night against a Swinton side that has plenty of new signings of their own and which will be determined to defeat us on what is their home ground – at least for the present.

“They have strengthened well and will be a really stiff test for us and real challenge.”

In the meantime Rowley paid tribute to his coaching staff and all the hard work they had put in during the close season.

“Everyone from my assistant Neil Jukes right down to the Jets squad have been working really hard to get the players ready for a demanding season ahead, and from what we are seeing so far, they have done an excellent job.

“John Duffy is also doing an excellent job in leading the Coach Education Programme that we are undertaking with Wigan Warriors, which is aimed at strengthening the links with the community.

“It’s a key role and a job that is vital to the future development not only of Leigh and Wigan but the sport of rugby league too.”

Leigh Centurions’ Retail Unit in Leigh Market has had a restock of the 2013 home and away shirts.

The new designs sold extremely well in the run-up to Christmas and are available again in all sizes.

Call 07941 283027 for more details.