Leigh Centurions will be kicking off their Super League 2021 campaign this weekend when they host Wigan at Leigh Sports Village. Expectations are low for the Centurions with their sole focus on survival.
Last year, Leigh were selected ahead of Toulouse and London Broncos as the team to replace Toronto Wolfpack in Super League, and have so far shown they aren’t simply there to make up the numbers.
The Centurions embarked on a hefty offseason recruitment program as the club brought in 13 new faces and allowed 10 to depart. In fact, Liam Hood and Matty Wildie are the only two players to remain from the 2020 spine. Interestingly, Hood remains the only player in the squad who was a part of the relegated Centurions in 2017.
Martyn Ridyard, Josh Woods, Gregg McNally, and Ben Reynolds all left the Leigh Sports Village last fall, as Leigh rebuilt their spine ahead of their Betfred Super League return.
Super League 2021: have Leigh Centurions got the chemistry?
Questions about chemistry will likely persist for a few weeks, especially given how few games the Centurions have played together since the first Covid shutdown.
Nevertheless, the club brought in plenty of experience and the majority bring Super League experience in abundance. Matty Russell and Joe Mellor arrive from Toronto with Super League experience in abundance, as do Ryan Brierley and Jamie Ellis, who come in to provide depth at fullback and in the halves.
However, it was their most recent signing that highlighted Leigh’s ambition. The club signed former New South Wales star Nathan Peats from Gold Coast Titans to strengthen the nine spot, further underlining their commitment to establishing themselves long-term in the competition.
Building with a solid Centurions’ pack
The Centurions’ forward pack struggled mightily in their 2017 campaign and the pack has unsurprisingly been an area the club have strengthened. Leigh have brought in a wealth of experience in the pack namely with Ben Flower, Adam Sidlow, and Tyrone McCarthy, who have nearly 500 Super League games under their belt combined.
Nine of Leigh’s 13 signings played in the competition following the restart in August, but the size of the gap between Super League and Championship rugby is a sizeable one as shown by the hefty recruitment.
If Leigh can find consistency and reach that next level with their play, the sky is the limit for John Duffy’s team.
Meet the Centurions 2021 squad:
Squad numbers: 1 Ryan Brierley, 2 Matty Russell, 3 Iain Thornley, 4 Junior Sa’u, 5 Lewis Tierney, 6 Blake Wallace, 7 Joe Mellor, 8 Ben Flower, 9 Liam Hood, 10 Mark Ioane, 11 Ben Hellewell, 12 Jordan Thompson, 13 James Bell, 14 Matty Wildie, 15 Alex Gerrard, 16 Nathaniel Peteru, 17 Jamie Ellis, 18 Matty Gee, 19 Nathan Mason, 20 Adam Sidlow, 21 Tyrone McCarthy, 22 Craig Mullen, 23 Tom Spencer, 24 Keanan Brand, 25 Brendan Elliot
🔴⚪️ @IainThornley1 is our cover star for the first issue of The Centurion in 2021!
— Leigh Centurions (@LeighCenturions) March 26, 2021
Notable arrivals: Matty Russell, Adam Sidlow, Blake Wallace, Joe Mellor (all Toronto Wolfpack); Ryan Brierley, Nathaniel Peteru and Jamie Ellis (all Hull Kingston Rovers); Ben Flower (Wigan), Tyrone McCarthy (Warrington Wolves), Lewis Tierney (Catalans Dragons),
Notable outgoings: Danny Addy (Salford Red Devils), Gregg McNally (Whitehaven), Ben Reynolds (Toulouse Olympique), Martyn Ridyard (Swinton Lions), Josh Woods (Newcastle Thunder)
2021 Super League Leigh Centurions prediction: 11th place
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