LEIGH Centurions will be giving their young stars an opportunity to shine when they play hosts to amateurs Hull Dockers in the third round of the Carnegie Challenge Cup this Sunday.
The game kicks off at 3pm at Leigh Sports Village and with a crucial opening Co-operative Championship game against Featherstone Rovers the following Thursday, Centurions coach Ian Millward is determined to give some of his pack stars a rest and let the youngsters waiting in the wings show what they can do.
“I am in no way underestimating Hull Dockers,” stressed Millward. “I know they play in the National Conference League along with Leigh East and Leigh Miners Rangers and I know just how good a standard that league is.
“They have nothing to lose and all to gain, and they will play with a lot of enthusiasm, skill and passion. They will also be determined to try and catch us out with some plays that maybe they wouldn’t try week-in, week-out and we are all prepared for a very tough game.
“But we also have a much tougher clash some four days later and we have to look at making sure we are ready for that game too.
“With that in mind I am going to rest John Duffy, Chris Hill and James Taylor, and unfortunately for us Adam Higson got injured at Workington, so he will be out of the tie.
“But I will bring in Anthony Nicholson at hooker, and Sam Hopkins and Craig Briscoe. They are young players who have all impressed when called upon in the first team and this will be good experience for them on Sunday. They are the bright young stars of our future and this is an opportunity for them to show what they can do.”
Reflecting on the Centurions securing top spot in Pool 2 of the Northern Rail Cup with a 42-12 win at Workington, Millward was delighted.
“It was another impressive show,” he said. “Workington scored a try in each half, but were never really threatening our lead. I thought Ricky Bibey was immense, with Chris Hill just behind him, and Martyn Ridyard again put in an impressive game.
“All you can do is beat the opposition in front of you, but in four Northern Rail Cup games, we have scored 176 points, which has only been bettered by Widnes by two, and we have conceded less points than any other side. They are good statistics and indicative of the work we have been putting into working on maintaining and improving our defensive structures.
“Workington made us work hard but we always had their measure. Now we have Hull Dockers and then Featherstone Rovers, and the Championship then takes us on from there. It is along tough season, but we are doing okay so far.”
On Saturday, Leigh Sports Village plays host to Leigh Miners Rangers and their Carnegie Challenge Cup third round tie at home to Barrow Raiders, a side coached by former Great Britain player Garry Schofield. The Miners will have a lot on their plate against a side that won the Championship two seasons ago, but Ian Millward wishes the Leigh team every success.
“I wish them all the best for what will be a very exciting game for them,” said Millward. “We have 11 players in our squad who have come through the Miners ranks and we will all be rooting for them on Saturday. It is a tremendous testimony to the work they are doing with young players in the town that they can provide so many for the club’s professional side yet still be so competitive as to qualify for this stage of the Challenge Cup.
“I am sure they will do themselves and the town proud.”