Leigh Leopards coach makes Aaron Pene prediction and provides Darnell McIntosh update

Drew Darbyshire
Adrian Lam Aaron Pene Leigh Leopards Alamy

Leigh Leopards coach Adrian Lam (right) with new recruit Aaron Pene (left)

Leigh Leopards coach Adrian Lam has tipped new signing Aaron Pene to have a ‘really big future’ at the club: and in Super League.

Powerhouse prop Pene arrived at Leigh last month on a two-and-a-half-year deal after securing a release from NRL giants Melbourne Storm.

And just a week after his arrival in England, Pene made his Leigh debut in their defeat to Leeds at AMT Headingley on June 21, leaving Lam impressed with his initial hit out prior to the international break.

“Obviously we’ve been tracking him for a long time now, the last 18 months,” Lam said in his press conference ahead of Friday’s trip to his former club Wigan.

“He’s a player who I think is going to have a really big future here at Leigh. He’ll set Super League alight once he feel like he belongs here and earns the trust from the players around him.

“I think he’ll be a real player to watch in Super League for the rest of this year and every year moving forwards. I was really pleased for him.”

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Leigh Leopards coach Adrian Lam provides update on recent recruit Darnell McIntosh

Lam also provided the latest on recent recruit Darnell McIntosh, who arrived from Hull FC back in May as part of a swap deal which saw Tom Briscoe head the other way.

Winger or fullback McIntosh, who has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with the Leopards, has made two appearances for Lam’s side so far, and has been 18th man on four occasions.

“Darnell is obviously a player that is our future over the next couple of years,” Lam said in his press conference.

“He’s been sitting behind the outside-backs (waiting) to get an opportunity and has been 18th man nearly every week. I think the players that have been in the 17 or starting 13 have done what I believe to be a good job for us in recent weeks so it’s been hard just to push Darnell in there and leave someone else out.

“Players are on notice about making sure that they perform, I’m looking forward to giving him a go at the next opportunity and that may be next week – that may not be for the rest of this year – I’ve had those conversations with Darnell and he’s aware of that.

“I’m sure he’s a bit frustrated that he’s not playing but the philosophy for me as a coach is to give the players an opportunity to play well every week and to do what I’ve asked: if they can do that then they hold their spot so that’s the current position. Nothing will change that unless something doesn’t go quite to plan.

“I’m sure it is (frustrating) every week (for him) but we brought him here because we see a future with him here in one of our positions in our 13 or 17. He understands that.

“It’s a similar situation to Josh Charnley when he came in 2022, we were in the Championship and he came in July and hadn’t played for us. He only played a couple of times for us (that year) and wasn’t in the promotion team for us because the players that were playing were doing a great job. My philosophy is for the players to hold onto their positions while they can unless something doesn’t work out, and I’ve had similar communication with Darnell. We’re in a pretty good place there.”

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