Leigh coach Paul Rowley insists the Centurions are on track to challenge some of the sport’s elite clubs in the coming years.
Challenge Cup winners in 1921 and 1971, as well as champions in 1906 and 1982, Leigh is a club with a proud history.
They have been absent from the top flight since their 2005 Super League campaign, but with a solid base at the newly built Leigh Sports Village and a proven track record of producing outstanding players, Rowley is confident of the club’s future.
Rowley said: “With the new league structure on the horizon, there are some possible bottom-end Super League clubs that could be coming down with huge debt, decaying grounds and the same funding as ourselves when we get into that same mixer league.
“On the flip side we’ve a fantastic stadium, no debt and potentially the same level of funding. If you’re going to back a horse over the next couple of years, I’d know where I’d be putting my money.”
Rowley points to the Centurions’ past for inspiration, but has his beliefs firmly rooted in the present as he tries to plot the club’s on-field future.
He said: “Since year dot we’ve always been there or thereabouts. We’ve had success, we’ve never faltered in our ambition and we’ve never faltered in our aspiration.
“The enthusiasm and drive at the club is still as keen and as eager as it was 100 years ago.
“This town still lives and breathes rugby league, and we’ve got a strong fan base there. You’ll see at the Northern Rail Cup final what our fan base is capable of, and it will embarrass a lot of clubs not only in our league but also in Super League.”
Now Rowley hopes the prospect of a return to promotion and relegation, under whichever new league structure is eventually confirmed, can give the Centurions another major boost.
“I just hope the damage hasn’t already been done, because people lose habits and find something else to do, but there’ll undoubtedly be some who will find a new love and passion for rugby league.
“As a club we’ve a desire and will to win, and the will to go on and do better things – both individually and collectively – is there for all to see. You only have to look at the number of players we produce for our neighbouring Super League clubs year on year for proof of that. If we didn’t have the right environment and personnel, then that wouldn’t happen.
“The club has a good environment, ethos and history, and it’s a proud club as well. That pride and sense of a big club is clear when any new player joins us. It’s not a place to be when you’re drifting out – it’s a vibrant place to be that’s moving forward. We’ve certainly got plenty of ambition.”
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