Leigh Leopards pick up released Warrington Wolves starlet with squad depth issue addressed ahead of 2024

Ben Olawumi
Jack Darbyshire

Jack Darbyshire - Alamy

Leigh Leopards have confirmed the signing of young centre Jack Darbyshire on a one-year deal following his release from Warrington Wolves, with no secrets made of the fact that they want better squad depth come 2024.

Darbyshire becomes the Leopards’ fifth recruit this weekend, with the fourth only announced last night, another released academy ace in Lewis Baxter from St Helens.

Towards the back end of the current campaign, as injuries started to pile up, much was made of Leigh’s distinct lack of depth in the pack. In an exclusive interview with Love Rugby League, owner Derek Beaumont vowed that wouldn’t be the case come the start of 2024, and so it’s proving.

Their latest recruit, 19-year-old Darbyshire, is yet to make a senior appearance though spent a lot of time around the Warrington pack this term, particularly after Gary Chambers was propelled up to interim head coach from his own role in the academy.

Warrington Wolves starlet ‘over the moon’ with Leigh Leopards move

Putting pen to paper at the Leigh Sports Village, the centre is ready to take his opportunity with both hands.

The teenager said: “I’m over the moon to sign for Leigh, and I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity. I can’t wait to get started.

“I really enjoyed my time at Warrington and learned a lot. Some of my time in the scholarship and academy ranks was ruined by the Pandemic, but that was out of my hands.

“It’s not worked out for me this year at Warrington so I’m looking forward to a new challenge. I came with the Warrington squad for the Super League match at the Leopards Den and it was by far the best away ground I’ve visited for the atmosphere, the music and the fireworks. It felt like a show. I can’t wait to step out to play there in a Leopards shirt.

“The team has been going well and I’ve heard so many good things about the quality coaching staff. I know quite a few players (here) from Warrington, and I will settle in quickly.”

Leigh chief promises new signing ‘plenty of opportunities to develop’

Darbyshire is the son of the late Paul, who both played for and coached at Warrington, losing his life to MND at the age of 41 back in 2011.

Young back Jack will hope to emulate his father by playing in Super League, and Leigh’s Head of Rugby Chris Chester has pledged that he will get that chance.

Chester added: “Jack is a good quality English born centre who will bring young and healthy competition to our squad. We identified that lack of depth in our squad was a major factor in the team falling away at the end of this season.

“Jack’s signing helps rectify that. We will also be running a reserves side next year and so our signings have one eye on that.

“He will get plenty of opportunities to develop his career at Leigh. Adrian Lam likes to give young players their opportunity.

“You look at Lammy’s time at Wigan and the young players who came through their system that he helped develop who are now regular members of the first team squad.

“Jack is an intelligent kid with a good Rugby League pedigree, and we are all looking forward to him joining for pre-season.”

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