Leigh Leopards swoop to sign youngster from neighbours Wigan Warriors; Forward re-unites with Adrian Lam

Ben Olawumi
Adrian Lam

Adrian Lam - Alamy

Leigh Leopards have confirmed the signing of 20-year-old Kavan Rothwell from neighbours and newly crowned Super League champions Wigan Warriors on a one-year deal.

The prop – who has represented England at under-16 level – didn’t make a competitive first-team appearance for the Warriors having progressed through their scholarship and academy ranks.

He did however get a taste of the senior game in a pre-season clash with Newcastle Thunder last year, and then again on loan in both League 1 and the Championship this term.

Playing for Midlands Hurricanes against Workington Town in June, Rothwell made the step up to the second tier and featured three times for Barrow Raiders the following month as Paul Crarey’s side battled their way to survival.

Leigh Leopards pick up young forward from neighbours Wigan Warriors

The 20-year-old former Wigan St Patrick’s junior knows Leopards boss Adrian Lam well from the coach’s time in charge at the DW Stadium, and having moved across the borough, is looking forward to a re-union.

Rothwell said: “I’m excited and can’t wait to get started. I really enjoyed my time at Wigan and had the benefit of some good coaching.

When Lammy was head coach, I trained with the first team quite a bit, and hopefully I made a good impression. Leigh’s approach came out of nowhere, but as soon as I heard about it, I knew it was what I wanted.”

With Lam currently down under at the Pacific Championships in his role as Australia’s assistant, Head of Rugby Chris Chester has been the man providing comment on their new recruits.

On the young forward’s signature, he added: “Kavan is a young kid who’s been at Wigan for several years. He represented his country at junior level, and he’s found his opportunities limited at Wigan.

“He’s a big lad, with a good skill set who wants an opportunity, and we can offer him that. He will benefit from a full pre-season with Adrian, Tony Clubb and the rest of the guys. We are looking forward to working with him.”

Signing number six for Leigh

It remains to be seen whether the youngster will be in Lam’s first-team plans. Leigh are set to introduce a reserves side next year as they bolster their squad depth, something owner Derek Beaumont vowed to do in an exclusive interview with Love Rugby League last month amidst a well-documented injury crisis at the back end of the current campaign.

Earlier today, the Leopards confirmed the signing of Warrington Wolves starlet Jack Darbyshire, while St Helens academy product Lewis Baxter was confirmed last night, all three of those on one-year deals.

Elsewhere, prop Dan Norman – who has featured five times for the club as a loanee – and utility forward Owen Trout make the move with a healthy number of Super League appearances to their name already.

Championship star Louis Brogan rounds off the signings that Leigh have made so far, another local lad, who joins having spent four years with Swinton Lions and helped guide them to safety this term in the second tier.

The only confirmed departures are Oliver Gildart, who had already agreed to join Hull KR in 2024 before putting pen to paper on a short-term deal with the Leopards mid-season, and Joe Wardle who joins League 1 outfit Oldham in a player-coach role.

Seven stars are off-contract however, with their futures unconfirmed, including key man Ben Reynolds who was all set for a move to Featherstone Rovers before they blew their chance of Super League status last weekend in the play-offs at home to eventual promotion winners London Broncos.

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