Leigh confirm new signings after RFL dispensation

James Gordon

The RFL has granted special dispensation to both Leigh and Featherstone to register new players ahead of their Championship Shield final clash on Sunday.

Concerns had been raised over both team’s ability to field a full side, with the Centurions having finished with just 11 men in defeat at Dewsbury last weekend.

It comes after both clubs missed out on the Championship top four and faced a significant reduction in central funding, which saw a number of players exit.

Leigh have confirmed that seven players from Super League club academies have agreed to play for them this weekend.

They are Sam Grant (centre/wing, 19), James Barran (halfback, 19), Liam Byrne (prop, 19) and Ben Kilner (prop, 19) from Wigan, Chris Follin (second row, 19) and Kevin Brown (full-back or wing, 19) from St Helens and Castleford’s Jacques O’Neill (hooker, 19)

Leigh head coach Kieron Purtill said: “I’d like to thank Wigan Warriors, St Helens and Castleford Tigers for their tremendous assistance to our Club at a time of need.

“It is a testament to the work that they and other Super League clubs do with junior players that they produce so many quality Rugby League players.

“As a Club we have a very good relationship with Wigan, St Helens and Castleford among many others and down the line we would like to repay the gratitude we feel.

“I have spoken to each of the seven players and each one is excited to be part of the preparation for playing in a big game on Sunday and earning a Heritage Number for a great Rugby League club in Leigh Centurions. They can’t wait to get involved.

“Not many players can say that they made their senior debut in a cup final but each of the lads will be able to re-count this to their grand children in 50 years’ time and hopefully for each of them it will be the start of a successful and enjoyable senior playing career.

“We are all looking forward to the final and a great game against Featherstone Rovers.”

Leigh, who lost several players following the end of the regular Championship season, have also been hit by injury problems as well as several players not playing due to pay disputes.

The RFL statement upon granting the dispensation said: “In response to a request by Leigh Centurions and Featherstone Rovers, and after consultation with the other Championship and League One clubs, the Rugby Football League has agreed to grant a dispensation to both clubs to register, on loan, additional players ahead of Sunday’s Championship Shield Final.

“After taking into account all relevant factors, the Board of the Rugby Football League believes that there are exceptional circumstances that justify this dispensation.

“This position was unanimously supported by the Championship and League One clubs at a meeting today.

“The dispensation will be limited to current Academy players who have not played at Super League First Team Level.”