As bodies pile up in the medical room at the Sports Village, Leigh Leopards owner Derek Beaumont wants people to stop saying the club ‘haven’t had any injuries this year’, and addressed the fact that they’re losing key men at the wrong time of the season.
The Leythers head to Craven Park tomorrow night, taking on Hull KR in their first-ever Super League play-off game, vying for a spot in the semi-finals of the competition as they look to end a hugely impressive first year back in the top flight on a high.
They do so with a depleted squad however, with injuries starting to plague an already small pack. Influential centre Zak Hardaker had surgery on his broken thumb earlier this week, while captain John Asiata didn’t play in any of their last three regular season fixtures.
Asiata was rested for the first of those, but sat the latter two out with a hamstring issue which the club admitted was worse than first feared. Despite that, he’s been named in their 21-man squad for the trip to Craven Park. Owner Beaumont though told Love Rugby League on Monday that the Dream Team forward would not be playing any part, bemoaning the selection issues boss Adrian Lam now has to deal with.
Leigh Leopards owner Derek Beaumont bemoans injury pile-up
The Leopards chief was speaking to us at the Dream Team launch event. Notably, this was before the club won their appeal against Tom Amone’s ban, with the prop now free to play tomorrow night.
Beaumont said: “People think we haven’t had any injuries this year until now, that’s not the case. It’s probably because we’ve not had them to players like Lokie (Lachlan Lam), (Edwin) Ipape, Gaz O’Brien, both our wingers (Josh Charnley and Tom Briscoe) have been okay, Tom Amone, Robbie Mulhern.
“We’ve been alright, but I think other people are getting men back while we’re losing them now. You see Saints get Alex Walmsley back, and that’s like a shot in the arm for them, a new world class player put into your team.
“On the other side of it, we’re seeing a Grade B charge on Tom Amone and a one-match penalty notice. It’s a tough job for Adrian because he can only work with the tools he’s got, but I know 100% that he’ll get the best out of what he’s got available to him, and the lads will go over there and rip in. They’ll do their best for the town.”
Beaumont: ‘We’ve had our fair share of injuries throughout the year’
For the majority of the year, Lam has been able to call upon – in the most part – a very similar 21 each week, and in turn a very similar 18-man matchday squad.
Only in the last few weeks have big names been missing and holes really started to appear, with Beaumont admitting the importance of being able to rotate throughout the year, which the Leopards haven’t been able to do as much as most others.
He continued: “We’re getting them at a different time than some other teams I suppose. I look at Salford and I remember one point in time where they had no (Brodie) Croft, (Ryan) Brierley and no (Andy) Ackers.
“You’ve taken the spine out of them, and they go on a losing spree, so depth of squad is massively important. I think that’s where your Saints, Wigan, Warrington, Leeds, those who people call the bigger clubs, they’ve got their own players coming through so they can rotate more and get away with injuries a little bit more.
“We have had our fair share though. If you look now, we’re without both of our strike centres in Hardaker and (Ricky) Leutele, which is tough. We’ve been without back-rowers all the way through the year, with (Jack) Hughes and (Joe) Wardle with his pec out most of it.
“We went and got Frankie Halton, then he got injured in his first game, and has been out again just recently. Probably the worst of them all is John now. Everyone knows how important he is to our team, so to go up against Wigan in that game how we did without key players, I’m proud.
“Oliver Gildart has also come in and done really well since joining us, and we’ll get Frankie back for this week, but probably none of the others.”