Championship Preview: Leigh Centurions

With new boss Ian Millward returning to the club for a second spell at the helm, Leigh will be looking to take advantage of their relegation reprieve, which saw them reinstated to the Championship in place of Gateshead.

Despite a last day of the season win over Whitehaven, the Centurions were relegated from 9th place (owing to Toulouse’s exemption), but were handed a get out of jail card by Gateshead, who’s financial problems saw them opt to drop down a league in their place.

It came as a great relief to the whole club, who will now be able to focus their attentions to the Super League licence process in 2011. After a disappointing 2009, Millward hasn’t got much time to turn things round, and his brief is simple – you must either win the Northern Rail Cup or reach the Grand Final.

Speaking of the Northern Rail Cup, its new ambassador Robbie Paul is one of Leigh’s key new signings. The former Bradford, Huddersfield and Salford star is in the twilight of his career but has been earmarked to form a deadly partnership with fellow new boy, Tim Hartley, the local lad who made the switch from Widnes.

Following Hartley from the Stobart Stadium was John Duffy, while former Widnes prop Stephen Nash also made the move from Salford. Another credible signing for the Centurions was Wakefield prop Ricky Bibey, but injuries already appear to have taken their toll early in the season.

After their Northern Rail Cup defeat to York, Millward admitted he could see the problems that saw Leigh struggle in 2009. It’s up to him to fix them, and fast, if Leigh are going to be able to reach the six and keep their Super League dreams alive.

Prediction: 6th
Key man: Robbie Paul

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