Leigh Leopards boss delivers update on retention plans for 21 off-contract stars

Ben Olawumi
John Asiata, Zak Hardaker, Josh Charnley

Leigh Leopards stars John Asiata (left), Zak Hardaker (middle) & Josh Charnley (right) are all off-contract at the end of the 2024 season

The vast majority of Leigh’s squad are currently off-contract, meaning that come May 1 they will be able to speak to other clubs. But Leopards boss Adrian Lam believes that “most” of his team have at least verbally agreed to extend their stays.

As we understand it, 21 of the Leopards‘ current squad are set to see their current contracts expire come the end of this season.

When the club were promoted up from the Championship in 2022, they rebranded and signed a glut of established Super League stars including Zak Hardaker, Ricky Leutele and Gareth O’Brien, all of whom on two-year deals.

Of those signed at the time, only Robbie Mulhern has had a contract extension publicly announced by Leigh, with the star forward’s deal now running until the end of 2026.

Elsewhere, the young trio of Kavan Rothwell, Lewis Baxter and Jack Darbyshire were all recruited in the off-season just gone, penning one-year deals for the 2024 season.

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Leigh Leopards boss Adrian Lam delivers update on retention plans for 21 off-contract stars

The full list of Leigh’s off-contract players, again as we understand it, is as follows: Gareth O’Brien, Tom Briscoe, Zak Hardaker, Ricky Leutele, Josh Charnley, Tom Amone, Jack Hughes, John Asiata, Matt Davis, Ben Nakubuwai, Ed Chamberlain, Oli Holmes, Keanan Brand, Nathan Wilde, Umyla Hanley, Tom Nisbet, Jacob Gannon, Jacob Jones, Lewis Baxter, Jack Darbyshire & Kavan Rothwell.

And while that is a very lengthy list, head coach Lam remains confident we won’t see too many of them depart come the end of the current campaign.

He told Love Rugby League: “It’s an ongoing process that goes on every month and every week of the year. I think it’s the key to success within a club, and I think we work really hard here.

“I think we’ve got 10 changes this year and maybe one or two coming in for the rest of the year at some point in the near future, and also during the season, so we’re building in the right direction with that five-year plan in mind.

“Having said that, we’ve been speaking to the players that are off-contract every day and every week over the last couple of months to make sure we get that sorted, and I think most of them are done now.

“We’re pretty excited about what’s ahead for us.”

UPDATE: Leigh Leopards dealt Keanan Brand injury blow as Adrian Lam reveals timeframe

‘We’ve got to make sure we keep our eyes and ears open to keep building our squad up to what we need it to be’

After experiencing issues where squad depth was concerned at the back end of the 2023 season, owner Derek Beaumont vowed that he would put the money in to strengthen the squad ahead of 2024.

He delivered on that vow too, with the Leopards recruiting eight new players ahead of the current campaign, needing that depth already after injuries to star men Tom Briscoe, Edwin Ipape and captain John Asiata amongst others.

Touching on recruitment, Lam continued: “We’re always open to talk to people who want to come and play for us and see if they can help us develop as a group.

“We’ve got to keep you guessing and everyone guessing! We’ve always been linked with players, I think the latest one was Tristan Sailor from the (Brisbane) Broncos who we were very interested in, but he’s probably going to play for them this week and for the next six weeks for them.

“Fans will get to see what we were looking at seeing… I know he’ll do well over there and he’ll stay there, but it’s players like that we’re open to talking to, whatever position.

“We’ve just got to make sure we keep our eyes and ears open and keep building our squad up to what we need it to be.”

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