Leigh Leopards debrief: Returning trio, Aaron Pene, play-off hopes, LSV return

Drew Darbyshire
John Asiata, Adrian Lam, Aaron Pene Leigh Leopards Alamy

From left to right: John Asiata, Adrian Lam and Aaron Pene of Leigh Leopards

Leigh Leopards coach Adrian Lam met with the media in his post-match press conference following their 24-6 defeat at Wigan Warriors, discussing several talking points.

Lam was asked about the trio who returned from the treatment room, Aaron Pene’s second appearance in a Leigh shirt, his belief of making the play-offs and returning home to the Leigh Sports Village next week after five straight away games.

Here’s the review and rundown of everything that was said in the Leopards debrief.

The returns of key trio John Asiata, Robbie Mulhern and Gareth O’Brien

John Asiata Leigh Leopards Alamy
John Asiata of Leigh Leopards

The Leopards welcomed John Asiata, Robbie Mulhern and Gareth O’Brien back into the mix for the Battle of the Borough, with the key trio leaving Lam impressed by what he saw, whilst powerhouse prop Tom Amone delivered a powerful display through the middle.

“He (Amone) was awesome. We welcomed back John Asiata who hasn’t been there all year, Robbie Mulhern that’s only played a handful of games and I thought he was outstanding tonight: both him and Tom Amone.

“I think if Edwin Ipape scores that try right at the start of the game when Bevan (French) made that try-saving tackle, I don’t know how he stopped that but he did.. There’s a couple of key points, but welcoming those boys and Gaz O’Brien back, Gaz has missed the whole year as well so it’s nice to have those boys back in the team.”

RELATED: 6 conclusions from Wigan Warriors’ win over Leigh Leopards: Injury concerns, promising playmakers

John Asiata gets 25 minutes under his belt upon return

“It was meant to be less than that but he played a bit more (than we were expecting). I think it was 20-odd minutes but I just don’t want to overdo that one with him, he’s been out for a very long time, he’s not quite 100 per cent yet so we’ve just got to make sure that we manage his minutes so that was the plan to get him on 10 minutes into the second half and play him for 15 or 20 minutes.”

INJURY NEWS: Josh Charnley injury latest provided by Leigh Leopards head coach Adrian Lam

Aaron Pene’s second Leigh appearance

Aaron Pene Leigh Leopards Alamy
Aaron Pene in action for Leigh Leopards

“He played a little bit longer than what he was meant to do, but like every player that we bring in from the NRL, it’s going to take him six to 10 weeks to settle in. We’re running out of time obviously but his journey is about playing his part for the team. I’m really excited with what’s ahead for him so we’ll manage that process as we go along.”

RELATED: Leigh Leopards boss makes Aaron Pene prediction and provides Darnell McInotsh update

Do you feel there is still time to force your way into the top six?

“Yeah I do. Traditionally, one or two teams will buckle and hopefully slip up and if they don’t then it’s out of our hands. But I think being away from home for such a long time has been difficult but going back home now with three games in a row and a big squad is pretty exciting so I’m looking forward to that.”

Do you think you need to win all of the remaining games to break into the play-offs?

“There’s a sum that we’ve got there, I don’t know exactly what it is now, but we’ve got to win 90 per cent of them so we can probably only allow one or two more slip ups and that’s it. We’ve addressed that to the team but I don’t want to really keep talking about that every week. I think we’d have beaten any other team in the competition tonight to be honest with the way that we played, so we’re looking forward to that moving forward.”

Returning home after five straight away games

“It’s been a pretty hectic last two months but we get home now against Huddersfield, then London and Saints, so we’ve got three games in a row on our new pitch. It’s been redone and it looks amazing, I think the groundsmen have done an amazing job: it looks unbelievable. We’re pretty excited about that and we’ve got to go back and hopefully take the momentum with the way that we played tonight into next week’s game and try to kick on and get on a bit of a roll.”

READ NEXT: Leigh Leopards coach profiles new signing David Armstrong, likened to Wigan Warriors duo