Leigh Leopards forward Jack Hughes says he can’t wait to celebrate their Challenge Cup success with the fans in Sunday’s homecoming parade.
Leigh made history on Saturday as they lifted the Challenge Cup for the first time since 1971, with a Lachlan Lam drop goal in golden point extra-time sealing a 17-16 win in the final at Wembley.
The Leopards will mark their historic triumph on Sunday evening with an open-top bus parade around the town and surrounding areas.
And former Great Britain international Hughes knows just how much it means to the locals.
“Just special, the story behind this one is special,” Hughes told Love Rugby League after their Wembley win.
“Winning it at any point is a great feeling and a nice thing to achieve but this feels really special.
“There is history behind it, with us being there in 1921, 1971 and now, so it’s a really good feeling.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back to Leigh and doing the parade.
“I know what these Leigh fans are like and what it means to them. They are absolutely crazy and that town is going to be packed, so I’m looking forward to that and giving them something to enjoy.”
Jack Hughes hails Leigh Leopards journey: ‘It’s a special part of my career’
Former Warrington captain Hughes, who hails from Golborne, a town between Wigan and Leigh, says he is loving his time with the Leopards.
“I class myself as a Wigan lad, I came through the Wigan system but Leigh is a stone’s throw away,” Hughes added.
“I’m local to Leigh so I get what Leigh is like as a rugby town, I get what it means to the fans so to be part of this.
“And the special story that we’re on this year, from what the group did last year before the rebrand, to get themselves into Super League and the journey we’re on now together, it’s a special part of my career.”
Hughes linked up with Leigh ahead of this season from Warrington, and whilst at the time he didn’t really know what to expect at the time, he could clearly see the potential of the club, who currently sit third in the Super League table.
“Honestly, at the beginning I didn’t really think about it, I didn’t think we were going to be bad, average or good – I was just happy to be joining the club,” Hughes added.
“Chris Chester (head of rugby) laid out the vision for the club, I was aware of the people they were signing and I was really positive about the move.
“It’s obviously going really well at the minute but we keep ourselves grounded and we’re a pretty humble, tight group and we’ll keep taking whatever comes next.”
‘The rebrand was a genius thing to do’
Leigh underwent a rebrand ahead of their return to Super League ahead of this year, changing their name from Centurions to Leopards, with a sea of leopard print embarking on Wembley Way over the weekend.
“I think the rebrand was a genius thing to do,” Hughes added.
“You’ve seen leopard print all around London this weekend, we’re walking around our hotel and kids have got leopard pyjamas on.
“It’s absolute genius from Derek (Beaumont, owner). That was all part of his vision and he explained that to the group, it’s something so catchy and striking. What a rebrand.”