The Derek Beaumont Column: Destiny in our hands

Willie Tonga puts pen to paper on his Leigh Centurions deal. Photo: Paul McCarthy
Willie Tonga puts pen to paper on his Leigh Centurions deal. Photo: Paul McCarthy
Share this article

WELL last week was certainly a very busy week for an off season.

We had the extremely successful questions and answer night with our new signings and all the hype and buzz around the place surrounding the signing of Rangi Chase.

The harder work came in our efforts of finding the top quality addition we were looking for.

Rolls and the boys were looking hard as I was myself and we were all sharing

clips and information that brought up some interesting projects.

However at this stage it wasn’t a project we were looking for – it was a nailed-on proven quality player we were looking for and this was hard to come by.

I am a great believer in everything happens for a reason and I have a real positive outlook on situations. I never dwell on could have been. I move on and take things into my own hands.

I believe in being the master of my own destiny. I have a lot at stake invested in the team and cannot allow that to falter if a weakness becomes apparent.

We didn’t get nervous and remained patient and as the end of the week arrived so did an outstanding prospect.

I have always stated that our players are our best salespeople and Rolls always seeks opinions from our players of targets – particularly if they have played with them or against them.

We had obviously done the rounds with a couple of Super League clubs where we thought they may have had a possible over subscription but nothing came up until Rolls made contact with Laurent Frayssinous over at Catalans Dragons.

When he called me with the possibility of Willie Tonga I was shocked. He and Reni are good mates and it had come to light that he was no longer enjoying the situation as he had been previously.

I made contact with Christophe Jouffret (Catalans director) and by the following day everything had been arranged.

I must state what a professional club they are and how easy they made things. By Friday evening I was booking his flight over for the Sunday. It happened in a flash.

The new rules surrounding the salary cap really have opened up doors to all clubs and I have decided to take advantage of it even more than originally intended to really have a dream team.

While scouring for a centre we came across a quality individual who can cover that position but is really more of a forward and it may well be that I also add him to our fold later this week.

If it is meant to be it will happen and if not it won’t. We are good without but will be even better with so watch this space.

We now have 13 players with international experience in our squad something I believe unprecedented for our club.

It is a mark of where we have come and is the best possible time for lapsed fans to reignite their love of the club. I plead with the town’s folk to bury any hatches of disagreements or upset with the club from yesteryear and embrace and buy into what we are trying to achieve.

The most successful clubs are the most supported clubs and I believe there are enough people in this town to sustain a competitive Super League club.

I was disappointed to read the reaction to the salary cap change by the London coach Andrew Henderson who seemed to believe it had been implemented for the benefit of Leigh.

He felt that it was too late to do anything with it at that point.

I was surprised by this as it was communicated to all Championship clubs a month ago on the November 6 so perhaps his club didn’t make him aware as it wasn’t something they wanted to take advantage of.

At the end of the day it is all well and good the cap being opened up but the money needs to exist to utilise it.

It is no good moaning about what Leigh are doing because the opportunity exists for

all and he has a wealthy owner who has pumped significant sums into the game and has shown extreme

commitment staying full- time in the Championship – in particular next season having seen central funding slashed from £1.8 million to £200k in the space of two seasons.

Perhaps if he gets his team into the middle eights his owner will be more motivated to take advantage of the new rules on offer.

Also this week saw the part I least enjoy with the release of Matt Sarsfield.

Matt is a great lad and still has it all in front of him and I am genuine when I say that the decision is about opportunity and at this time the coaching team believe that would be limited and it is best to let him control his own future.

I was therefore surprised to see him sign for Salford. Although I am personally made up for him I wonder if there will be the opportunities available to him and I hope it doesn’t see him playing in the Championship One competition regularly for North Wales when there were decent Championship clubs who saw him as a starting back rower.

I want to see Matt progress and hope one day he returns to Leigh. If there is one thing about Matt it is he gives 100 per cent in everything he does.

He is a tough uncompromising individual and he will give himself the best opportunity he can at Salford and I genuinely hope that at

this stage that is enough for him to get in their line up as I would really like to see him succeed.