Leigh owner Derek Beaumont has called on his club’s fans to travel to the DW Stadium in big numbers this Friday to cheer the Centurions on in their derby.
Leigh will face local rivals Wigan for the first time in Super League in more than a decade.
“It’s probably a tough one for them in many respects, because they are expected to win,” Beaumont said.
“So there’s probably no big reward for them doing so, with lots at stake if they don’t, especially with all the recent focus being on them for the wrong reasons which is a shame when we should still be championing their fantastic achievement against Cronulla, which was excellent for the English game.
“By contrast, whilst many may not expect much from the fixture from a Leigh Centurions perspective, that certainly won’t be the case for the army of Leigh fans who will travel to the game.
“The battle with Wigan Warriors means everything and has always brought a real sense of belief from our players and fans, even when we were a Championship side.”
Leigh have a number of ex-Wigan players in their side who will be looking to prove a point on Friday night.
“Harrison Hansen enjoyed many a year at the DW where he played some outstanding rugby,” Beaumont said.
“Similarly so did Danny Tickle; then there is Micky Higham who enjoyed a successful stint as well as recent signing Ryan Hampshire who came through their system.
“Sam Hopkins perhaps feels he has something to prove their having been bought by them only to never play a Super League game for them.
“Then there’s Jamie Acton who also spent time there without actually figuring.
“However, perhaps the biggest ingredient is the fact that this is the first return to the DW Stadium of Gareth Hock since his departure from the Warriors.
“Gaz needs no introduction to any stage, least not the DW and I am sure he will get a massive reception whether that is hostile or not.
“One thing is for sure- he will wear his heart on his sleeve and on Friday that sleeve will be a Leigh Centurions sleeve, the sleeve he is massively happy wearing these days, enjoying his rugby and his work.
“I challenge our fans to get behind Gaz and the rest of the boys in numbers and as we did at Cas demonstrate to Super League that we add value to the competition, not only on the field but with our vociferous support in numbers.
“The Saints fans showed last Friday how big they are, bringing close to 3,000 to the LSV.
“I challenge our fans to beat that with our visit to the DW for what will without doubt be a fantastic atmosphere with a lot at stake.”