Neil Jukes has been appointed to replace Paul Rowley as head coach of Leigh Centurions.
Jukes has been promoted from the position of assistant following Rowley’s resignation. Paul Anderson and Simon Finningan will continue as assistant coaches at Leigh.
Jukes debuted for the club against Swinton in January 1995 and made a total of 32 appearances for Leigh before his
playing career was cut short by injury following a short spell at Rochdale Hornets in 1998.
He then turned his attentions to coaching and built up a fine reputation in the amateur ranks with Ince Rose Bridge, also coaching Lancashire. After re-joining Leigh Centurions in 2009 he coached the Reserves team to Division One League success.
Following Ian Millward’s departure Jukes became primarily involved with a wide range of first-team duties, working alongside Paul Rowley and building up the on and off-field team.
“It’s a great honour to be invited to be Head Coach of Leigh Centurions,” Jukes said.
“I’d like to thank Paul for all his help and advice over the duration we’ve spent working together. I owe him a lot and where I am
today is largely down to Paul’s help and support.
“As a coach he has always been open and has believed and had confidence in his staff. He’s not one of those coaches who keeps things to himself and doesn’t pass things on.
“He aims to develop his staff, give them confidence and put them in situations where they can progress in their roles.
“We have worked closely together over the years and though we won’t now see one another on a day to day basis we will remain good friends.
“Thursday was a strange day and a sad day. I enjoyed what we had together, Paul and me and our relationship. But such is life – there is an opportunity there for me and I will never be as equipped as I am now to be a Head Coach.
“I know the culture we are trying to set and I want the players to continue to be honest, hard working and with a good attitude who want to be involved.
If you haven’t got that in a team it’s a hollow experience. I understand what kind of ingredients we need in our team and the reaction of the players has been superb.
Leigh Centurions Owner Derek Beaumont said: “This is not a difficult appointment or one that needed much consideration, if any at all.
“As everybody knows I have a huge amount of respect for Rolls and value his opinion. In his letter to the Board he suggested that Neil should be promoted as his predecessor stating he was more than capable to coach the team.
“The players themselves made contact with me, stating they believed Neil was the man for the job. Nothing is broken in terms of the Club’s structures, schedules, facilities and styles of play so I was keen to ensure that wasn’t disrupted.
“I have witnessed first-hand how involved Jukesy is with the team over the past two years and paid more attention to him by virtue of Rolls stating how good he was and how not many people realise how important Jukesy is to what we do.
“He also has a good background in business as a manager responsible for a large workforce so has good managerial skills and with that good discipline and procedures.”
Beaumont continued: “I have always got on really well with him and he communicates well with me at ease so it is just a natural progression.
“He was involved in the creation of this team with Rolls many years ago and has the respect of those players as well as the respect of the senior players in the Club.
“We had a very easy conversation and have a good understanding of what is expected. It goes without saying that there is a lot of pressure associated with the position, more so this year with the investment in the squad and the clear intention to achieve Super League.
“Jukesy is more than happy to absorb that and he understands and accepts the challenge on a results-driven
“I firmly believe he has the credentials and ability to achieve what we set out to achieve at the beginning and he knows that if we feel he needs support down the line we can look to add that if necessary.
“One thing he will do is give 110%, leaving no stone unturned to make this role work for himself and grasp the opportunity with both hands.”
Beaumont added: “While we never advertised for a replacement for Rolls, given our intentions to continue with what is already working I was encouraged by the number and quality of personnel that made their interest known.
“It was certainly indicative as to how far the Club has come to attract the attention it did in that respect and I apologise for giving my phone a break during the period and not answering calls, emails and texts as it wasn’t really possible to do so until I had sorted everything that was needed.
“I will work through them and thank people for their interest. However, I will not comment publicly on people who expressed an interest as it would be inappropriate to do so. Whilst I was shocked by Paul’s decision and Thursday was a very difficult day for the Club I like to take a positive outlook.
“I have said before I am a great believer in the power of now dealing with what is happening now what you can control going forward. That is no disrespect to Paul but I can’t control that so I have to be positive and look ahead.
“What is interesting, as communicated to me by one of the boys, is this is the first bit of adversity the group has faced as a whole, being a new group and in many ways that can galvanise the group as we pull together and use it to make us stronger.
“The boys were naturally shocked and disappointed but they are professional sportsmen and want to now support Neil in his new role and demonstrate to all that they are still a quality rugby team.
“That is done on the field and I am sure all our loyal fans will show Neil their support in his appointment and wish him well in his new found role. I am certain Rolls will also do the same.”