Chris Chester on Leigh’s NRL recruits, dual-reg partners & more signings to come

Chris Chester

Leigh head of rugby Chris Chester says he still wants four or five more players through the door before the new Championship season gets underway.

The Centurions have 19 players registered in their first team ahead of their return to the Championship in 2022.

Leigh have made a number of impressive signings in the off-season, with their most recent recruits being centre Nene Macdonald and prop Tom Amone from the NRL.

SQUAD: How Leigh are shaping up for 2022

Chris Chester hails Leigh signings of NRL duo

Tom Amone
Tom Amone will move to Leigh for 2022

Speaking on LCTV, Chester said: “The Nene one came about through my first discussions between myself and Adrian (Lam). Adrian threw up his name so we contracted his manager.

“At one point we thought it was dead in the water but the next he was signing a contract. With Nene, what we’ve got is a player with probably a point to prove. He’s 27-year-old, he has got a lot of NRL experience and he’s been in plenty of good systems. He is a player who is going to score plenty of tries. This guy is a genuine NRL player and is going to be an exciting player for Leigh Centurions. I’m delighted to get his signature on the paper as I am with Tom.

“Tom had plenty of interest from the NRL but Lammy’s relationship with his manager Sam Ayoub really helped in that one as did my relationship with Tom’s extended family as well. I just felt that was a really important step for us in both signings, but especially Tom.

“Looking at the size of the squad, the middles where one area in which we needed to strengthen and we did that and we will continue to do that over the next couple of weeks. I understand sometimes fans’ frustrations in not getting the signings out and the names but sometimes these things take a bit of time. With the visa process, it is quite a long process. When we’ve got some news we’ll announce it but there are two signings there that I’ll be looking forward to seeing this year.”

HEAD COACH: Adrian Lam on why he chose Leigh

Centurions to continue dual-registration with St Helens

Aaron Smith
St Helens hooker Aaron Smith has joined Leigh on a season-long loan

Chester has revealed that the club will continue their dual-registration partnership with Super League champions St Helens. He added that he wants to bring another four or five players to Adrian Lam’s squad ahead of the season starting.

He added: “I think around the 23 or 24 mark, bearing in mind, we are going to run a dual-registration with St Helens.

“We don’t have to keep falling back and asking Saints for help but I’ll be fairly hopeful over the coming weeks. Hopefully before Christmas we’ll have another couple of players in house.

“We are doing a lot of work with the agents overseas and agents over here. These things take time, I know we haven’t got a great deal of time, we start at the end of January. But it is really important that we get the right people on board.”

Overseas players

Jy Hitchcox
Australian winger Jy Hitchcox (has joined Leigh for 2022

There is no limit on having overseas players in the Championship. In Super League, the quota limit for overseas players is seven.

Chester added: “It’s unlimited (quota) in the Championship. It is a different rule in the Championship than in Super League, I’m not too sure why. It is unlimited so we are obviously looking at that market. The English market… there is not a great deal available at this moment in time.

“You can have as many as you want but that would obviously be an issue in 12 months time should we get into Super League. There is no point recruiting eight or nine Australians to come over here because you are only allowed seven (in Super League). You would have to lose a minimum of two, but we want to try and bring our own through and sign as many English as we possibly can. Having said that, we are in the market for the best Australians out there.”

READ MORE: List of pre-season friendlies for 2022

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