Leigh Leopards coach Adrian Lam remains ‘positive’ despite Wigan Warriors defeat

Drew Darbyshire
Adrian Lam Leigh Leopards Alamy

Leigh Leopards head coach Adrian Lam

Leigh Leopards coach Adrian Lam insists he remains upbeat despite their 40-12 defeat to Wigan Warriors in the Battle of the Borough on Thursday night.

The Leopards went down to a heavy defeat to their neighbours Wigan in Round 7 of Super League, having to play without key men Edwin Ipape, John Asiata, Tom Amone, Robbie Mulhern and Tom Briscoe, who are all sidelined with injuries.

Leigh have done it tough with injuries so far this season, and with that context in mind, Lam says he remains ‘positive’ despite the heavy scoreline against world champions Wigan.

Speaking in his post-match press conference, Lam said: “I thought in patches, including the start of the game, I was really happy with what we did and it felt like there was a lot of last year in that as well which is what we’re striving to get to with so many new faces and positional changes every week. It’s hard to get that but I certainly saw some of that tonight.

“I was more proud of the effort that we had at times, it wasn’t for 80 minutes, and there were certainly some bad moments for us but I thought Wigan played well though. They are an opportune team, if there’s a 50-50 chance they take it and score, I thought that’s what they did tonight. They were quite clinical with taking their chances so we’ve got to give them credit for that but I was proud of the boys for hanging in there for long periods.

“There were times tonight when I saw us (being) back. I got some good feelings about that, there were times I was frustrated too but we’ve just got to stay positive with what we’ve got at the moment.

“I had a conversation in the dressing room about just making sure we stick together through this because when we come through it.. There were players playing big minutes tonight who wouldn’t normally have played that otherwise, but I think that’s going to put us in good shape once the other players back. But I’m also a coach that doesn’t want to wait until the other players are back, we’ve got to perform now so that’s the key to trying to find that consistency.”

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Leigh Leopards boss Adrian Lam remaining ‘positive’ despite run of defeats

The Leopards enjoyed a phenomenal season in 2023, lifting the Challenge Cup at Wembley before securing a spot in the Super League play-offs.

But it’s been a tough start to 2024, dealing with injuries to their key players, and winning just one league game from their opening six – but Lam insists he and the rest of his side are confident in turning things around sooner rather than later.

He said: “There was a completely different front-row against the world champions and I thought we went quite well with them at the start of the game, so I’m just pleased for those boys that they got some (longer) minutes and they are going to get better for that, we’ve just got to keep reminding ourselves not to get negative about any of this and to stay positive because it is difficult times, we’ve got to stick together.”

Lam added: “I think you’ve always got to check yourself first and make sure you are doing the right thing by everyone and it has certainly changed the way I’ve coached a little bit in the sense of how do we change our game up when so many of our key players are out, and (without) your muscle men through the middle.

“Our starting front-row was out tonight (Amone Ipape, Mulhern, Asiata) and all three of them are starting middles and three of them are Dream Team players and one of them played for England last year so we’re missing them quite heavily, but like I said, we can’t worry about them too much. But I am excited about the challenge we have ahead of us now, I’m looking at it at how I can be better with everyone and how we can turn this around but we’re close. I think we’re really close so we’ve got to stay positive through this.”

Leigh have a nine-day turnaround now as they turn their attention to retaining their Challenge Cup crown in a rematch of last year’s final against Hull KR at Sewell Group Craven Park next Saturday in the quarter-finals.

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