Leigh Leopards new boy discusses ‘surreal’ move to boyhood club, leaving a full-time job behind & club’s ‘unbelievable’ transformation

Ben Olawumi
Louis Brogan, Leigh Leopards

Louis Brogan

Leigh Leopards recruit Louis Brogan grew up five minutes away from his new place of work. His parents bought him a season ticket for Christmas every year, and his friends still follow the team up and down the country. Now, he will be vying for a place in that team, and he can’t wipe the smile off his face because of it.

After a few weeks of paper talk, the 23-year-old’s signing was announced by the Leopards back in October, penning a two-year deal at the Leigh Sports Village.

In truth, as he told Love Rugby League in an exclusive interview at the club’s pre-season media day earlier this week, Brogan had actually put pen to paper a few weeks before that.

And those few weeks between the ink setting and his arrival being announced by the Leopards were amongst the trickiest to navigate, having to contain the news within the four walls of his parents’ house!

Leigh Leopards new boy Louis Brogan opens up on ‘surreal’ move to boyhood club

Brogan said: “To be from Leigh and be a Leigh lad, signing for my hometown club is – and was always going to be – an amazing feeling, and it’s something I’m really proud of.

“I’d signed my deal pretty early, I was still at Swinton at the time, so I just kept it relatively quiet for a little bit.

“I told my girlfriend Holly and my parents (Jay & Terry) straight away, and a couple of my mates who still have season tickets here, but honestly they didn’t believe me, they thought I was winding them up!

“They were all buzzing for me though. Obviously my mum and dad, they used to buy me my season ticket every year as a Christmas present, so they were just proud. My girlfriend was buzzing for me as well, it’s just a great feeling.

“We’ve only just seen the new shirts today, and I was just looking at it thinking, ‘it’s a bit mad this. I’ve got a Leigh top with my name and number on it!’… Honestly, it’s surreal.

“At the end of every year (of my playing career) so far, I’ve tried to keep a match shirt from all the teams I’ve played for as a memento. This year, I think I’ll get asked for a fair few!”

Hometown boy Brogan discusses Leigh’s ‘unbelievable’ transformation

The utility forward has actually donned a Leigh shirt once before in a pre-season friendly against London Broncos ahead of the 2019 campaign which the then-Centurions lost 20-0 in.

A lot has changed since then, on both the parts of the player and the club, as Brogan explained: “At that time, I just needed to go and play rugby week in, week out, and develop myself.

Martyn Ridyard
Martyn Ridyard prepares to kick a goal for Leigh – then Centurions – at the 2019 Summer Bash – Alamy

“I knew I needed to learn the game really, I just wanted to play. That was the main reason I think it didn’t work out back then.

“The club is almost unrecognisable from when I played in that game as well, and I mean that in the best possible way. It’s been an unbelievable transformation… what they’re doing with the club, everything is just getting better and better.

“The club’s definitely one that’s on the up, and I think you see that with the Challenge Cup that they went and won last year. I think things are going to keep improving, and that starts this year.

“When I was growing up, there were cult heroes I watched on the pitch like Martyn Ridyard and Fuifui Moimoi, there were loads that I could name.

“In that sort of era, I used to watch those guys every week home and away, and I had a season ticket for about four or five years, but now it’s about new heroes emerging as the club becomes known as a Super League outfit.”

Brogan thanks Swinton Lions for their role in his journey: ‘My time there has definitely helped me a lot, it has helped to mould me’

A Leigh Miners Rangers junior, Brogan’s senior development so far has come with Swinton Lions. Just a few weeks after featuring in that friendly for Leigh five years ago, he joined the Lions, and until this off-season has been with them ever since.

74 competitive appearances for Swinton have followed, as well as a whole host of awards, but Brogan insists the experience of playing regularly at senior level has been invaluable for him, with high praise for the Greater Manchester outfit.

He told us: “My time there has definitely helped me a lot, it has helped to mould me, I don’t think that’s an unrealistic thing to say.

“At 19, I was playing semi-professional rugby every week, going up against lads who have been there and done it in Super League.

Louis Brogan
Louis Brogan in action for Swinton Lions in 2023 – Alamy

“I think it’s really helped me in my development, it’s sort of given me that confidence that I can do it, playing week in, week out.

“Because I’ve been at Swinton for four years, some of my best mates are there. It wasn’t a difficult decision to leave because of the opportunity on offer here at Leigh, but it was definitely sad for me to be leaving behind those mates who I’d been around for so long.

“Fortunately, everyone here (at Leigh) has been really welcoming and dead helpful. If I’ve ever needed anything, any help or advice on my game – or even just adapting to full-time – they’ve all been there.

“From the first day I got here, I’ve always been made to feel like a part of the team, that happened straight away.

“The week we had in Lanzarote was really good, especially as a new lad coming in. You had a period there where you were all together seven days, 24 hours a day.

“You got to see people outside of rugby, going having a coffee with them, messing about in the pool or whatever it was. Spending a bit of time with them outside of training, you got to know people a lot better and increased that understanding of one another.”

From a fully-qualified electrician to a full-time Leigh Leopard: Local lad Louis

Last week,Β Love Rugby LeagueΒ spoke to a trio of now-former Super League stalwarts who have dropped down to either the Championship or League 1. Going from a full-time environment to a part-time one, they are all preparing for life after league.

For Brogan, who will proudly wear the number 30 shirt at the LSV this year, the story is the other way around.

While plying his trade with Swinton, he’s needed a full-time job over the last few years, and says that giving that up wasn’t as easy as people may think. It also wasn’t something he’d thought was possible until recently.

The 23-year-old said: “Transitioning from part-time to full-time was something that I looked forward to, and something I was really excited about.

Swinton Lions
Swinton Lions celebrate Championship survival after winning at Halifax Panthers on the final day of the 2023 season – Alamy

“I had a full-time job as an electrician, so I’ve obviously had to quit my job and gone from part-time to full-time rugby league.

“I was an electrician for six years, four of those on an apprenticeship, and then two years fully qualified, but I never thought about even wanting to go full-time in rugby league really.

“The year before last, I started playing really well and had a little bit of interest, and that’s when I sort of thought, ‘I might have a chance here’.

“I didn’t even have an agent or anything, I was just happy to stay at Swinton really, but I had a few agents message me saying they’d had a few clubs asking about me, and saying they wanted to represent me.

“I spoke to a couple of them, chose one, and just went from there really. I sorted everything with Leigh through my agent, it was straight forward really.

“In the first couple of weeks, it was more difficult than you’d expect getting used to training in the day and then having free time at night, but I’ve got used to it now and I’m really enjoying it. I can see and feel the benefits of it already.”

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