Leigh Leopards coach insists John Asiata does not need to change approach after successful challenge

Aaron Bower
John Asiata and Adrian Lam Leigh Leopards Challenge Cup final Alamy

John Asiata (left) and Adrian Lam (right) of Leigh Leopards lift the Challenge Cup at Wembley in 2023

Leigh Leopards coach Adrian Lam has insisted the club defend John Asiata ‘every day of the week’ after a successful challenge against a warning for his tackle technique.

The Leopards successfully challenged Asiata’s Grade A charge following a tackle involving St Helens‘ Sione Mata’utia during a recent defeat in the early weeks of the new Super League season.

And Lam insisted that the fact Leigh won that challenge means Asiata has no reason whatsoever to change the tackle technique that has come in for criticism over the past year. St Helens were vocal about Asiata’s technique following the Challenge Cup semi-final between the sides last year, and again after the Mata’utia tackle last month.

But Lam insisted that Asiata has done nothing wrong, and Leigh were always going to attempt to defend their player.

He said: “I’m grateful that as a club we stood up for that reason. He wasn’t suspended for a week, he was only charged and warned. But that one warning can go on a players’ name and after three warnings, you get a week’s suspension.

“Even to that level, we felt it was unfair and Derek (Beaumont) represented him last night in an incredible way and it was very clear there was nothing for John to answer to. He doesn’t need to change the way he defends, he’s our captain and our leader and we’ll have his back very day of the week.”

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The Leopards issued their own separate club statement saying they hope the appeal will stop people ‘tainting the excellent character’ of Asiata.

They said: “The club hopes that this outcome will ensure people stop tainting the excellent character of our player.

“The club offered for the hearing to take place in a public forum so that rugby league supporters in general could see the structured and professional way the sport independently deals with matters. Players and clubs are given a fair opportunity to present their case in the same way the Match Review Panel can present theirs.

“The panel was satisfied that John Asiata did not breach the laws of the game. John can now continue his recovery programme and we look forward to seeing him back leading our team as soon as possible.”

Asiata is currently sidelined from the game due to a calf injury.

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