Everything Adrian Lam said on Leigh Leopards contract extension, recruitment and retention

Drew Darbyshire
Adrian Lam Leigh Leopards Alamy

Leigh Leopards head coach Adrian Lam

Leigh Leopards coach Adrian Lam met with the media on Tuesday for the first time since agreeing a new long-term deal with the Super League club.

Lam held talks with Hull FC about becoming their new head coach before eventually agreeing to sign a new three-year deal with the Leopards, and perhaps unsurprisingly, that topic was high on the agenda on Tuesday. Here’s everything Lam said on why he’s remaining at Leigh – and his long-term vision for the club.

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What is your long-term vision now that you have committed your future to Leigh?

That’s a good question. Arriving here in the Championship was a massive task and challenge for us, I remember turning up on day one and there were only six players here so I had a job to do: to recruit players as that first part of the plan and I thought we did a reasonably good job with that. We obviously got promoted back up into Super League, we won every trophy in the Championship: the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup, the League Leaders’ (Shield) and then the Grand Final.

I thought we had a really good year last year with the Challenge Cup win and I still think we’ve got a good job to do this year. I know when all players are available and fit and we get our best 17 out there that we’ll be a hard team to beat. I know the difficult part of this season has been learning to play without John Asiata because of my philosophies, he’s a real integral part of the cog between the wheel in attack for us, but I think we’ve started to work that out now over the last three or four weeks, so I’m excited about where that is going to get to, that’ll be around the time that John comes back (from injury) so he’ll have to fit in to the new style that we’re playing.

But moving forward, I think at the end of this year there will probably be a lot of changes again and that’s part of the process, that’s part of what we want to happen, not what is forced to happen so everyone understands that.

There will be a rotation of a lot of players, bringing in some youth, size, x-factor and speed within the group and then moving forward we’ve got a big plan for us with how the club looks within the next five or 10 years – long after I’ve been.

My goal is to make sure we stay on track with who we’ve become, that DNA of what we’re known as. I think we’re a really difficult team to play against, I think our fans and our numbers are growing, I think Derek (Beaumont, owner) is doing a great job with the business side of Leigh Rugby League, there’s no better atmosphere than a home game here – all of that played a part of me staying too. I’ve got a great working relationship with Derek, Neil Jukes and Chris Chester – we’re all on the same page with where we want to head to. I think our fans played a big part in me staying and there’s nothing better than coming here on home game and watching them in the background, that’s been unbelievable.

I’m excited about what’s ahead. I think we’ve got to start and rebuild again so everyone knows at some point, but that’s exciting because we have to, we need to, we don’t want to be sat in what we’ve done, we want to keep improving with who we are. It’s going to take a bit of hard work but we’re prepared in the long haul for that.

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Recruitment and retention plans

Leigh Leopards Challenge Cup Alamy
Leigh Leopards lifted the Challenge Cup in 2023

There’s been a lot of players obviously signing to leave at the end of the season and that’s okay, that’s part of the process, part of building and part of recruitment and retention, and making some tough decisions or agreeing on some decisions on players to leave and whatnot. It doesn’t always work out in your favour but I think by showing my commitment to the club over the next three years, I think we can get some settling down and from there we can also move forward with recruiting ourselves and replacing the players we might be losing.

There’s going to be a bit of a turnaround with the squad numbers at the end (of the season) but I’m pretty excited about that, I want to look at it as a positive. It’s part of the process we’ve talked about on a long-term plan here, I know the players (who have signed contract extensions) have been very excited they are going to be here for another couple of years, and it just gives stability to the club and it also gives confidence to the players.

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Building a squad with a blend of youth and experience

I think it’s one of the best things we’ve done here as a club. To go up into the Championship and into Super League, I felt that needed a lot more experienced players balanced out with some skill and x-factor, and I thought we got a good balance with that. A lot of players there were senior players that have captained other clubs, we had the vision for that and I thought that worked really well for us.

I think we’re going through a transitional phase now where we’ve got to flip it, I don’t need to explain exactly what’s going on,  but you’ll see the picture get painted over the next 12 months probably and there’ll be a third part two or three years after that.

It’s all really exciting but there may be some tough times through those periods when there is a lot more youth in there that need to get that experience, but I’m confident. Like this year, there has been a lot of ups and downs with injury that hasn’t been ideal for us, but that’s starting to come good but I think there’s a different story this year left in us and what’s to go this season. I’m excited about what is ahead for us, I’m excited about this Friday night (against Huddersfield), that’s where it will start.

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