Leigh Leopards coach Adrian Lam says key duo Josh Charnley and John Asiata face late fitness checks ahead of Friday’s trip to St Helens.
Winger Charnley has been in electric form for Leigh this season, scoring 28 tries in 27 appearances, currently sitting at the top of Super League’s try scoring charts.
And captain Asiata has been a focal point for Leigh this year, with the former Samoa and Tonga international leading his side to their first Challenge Cup win since 1971.
Speaking in his press conference ahead of Friday’s trip to St Helens, Lam said the pair are nursing ‘niggling injuries’ and will be assessed further as the week goes on before making a decision whether they play this weekend.
Lam said he was also pleased to see Ireland international Frankie Halton back on the field in last weekend’s win over Huddersfield following a three-month injury lay-off with a pectoral muscle injury.
“Very happy for Frankie, he had minimal time here and then he had that operation so he looks like he’s back from that and he certainly helped us,” Lam said in his press conference ahead of Friday’s match against St Helens.
“He added his own bit of X-factor to us on the weekend which is exactly what we needed.
“There are just a couple of niggling injuries to Charnley and Asiata. Asiata has a slight strain to his calf so we’ll give those guys up until kick-off to make a decision and then its business as usual.”
When asked about possible replacements for Charnley and Asiata if they don’t feature, Lam replied: “I’ve got a few boys that haven’t played for a couple of weeks such as Oliver Holmes, Ed Chamberlain, Ava Seumanufagai and Nathan Wilde so those players – Matty Davis didn’t play last week as well – so the two would come out of that four as well but it doesn’t really matter if they’re involved this week, I’d also like to see how the team handles the game without them.”
Challenge Cup winners Leigh Leopards on track for a top four finish in Super League
The Leopards, who only won promotion to Super League from the Championship ahead of this season, won their first Challenge Cup since 1971 last month.
And they’re on track for a top four finish in Super League with three games left of the regular season.
Asked how important a top four finish would be for the club, Lam replied: “Just really important because of the hard work we’ve put in.
“It’s been a long season and, as long as it’s been, it’s unbelievable how quickly it has come around with three games to go.
“I think the Challenge Cup (final) towards the end of the year was a real difficult part to get over that, celebrate that and then try to come back down to earth with minimal games left, I think that needs to change probably for the RFL moving forward but, having said that, at the start of the season if you was to say ‘you’ll win the Challenge Cup and finish in the top four at the end of the season’ you’d have to pinch yourself and go ‘really?’
“Everyone has worked really hard here. We know that if we win one out of the last three that we’re definitely top four – two definitely gets us in – one then it’s mostly there depending on results to other clubs.
“I think the achievement of us in our first year in Super League with a brand new squad has been amazing and something that I’ll remember as a coach forever”
“We’ve worked hard and 18 months ago when I turned up to coach with Chris Chester (head of rugby) I think we only had six players so the way we’ve built the group, the way we’ve brought them together and the way they’ve played together at times – just the style of rugby too – our identity is certainly starting to come forward as a club and the future looks bright.
“We’ve just got to make sure in the future that we recruit and retain well, keep developing that side with the rugby side, but for the immediate future just take each week at a time.
“If we can be fortunate to be in the top four and have a home (play-off) final here that would be massive for us and that’ll be the last time we play at home before we go away to play a game in a semi-final to make Old Trafford if we’re lucky enough to play well here at home.
“There’s plenty to look forward to and then I’m into the Australian camp with the Kangaroos for the Pacific Championships over there so it never ends, I’m just really pleased for the club at the moment but we’ve got to keep our feet grounded and keep working.”