Down. Deflated. Relegated. That was the story for Leigh Centurions six months ago after losing to the Catalans Dragons in the Million Pound Game.
Fast-forward a few chapters, and the now-championship side are preparing for their Challenge Cup sixth round battle against super league oppositions Salford Red Devils.
Leigh and Salford rediscovered their rivalry in 2017, with Derek Beaumont and Marwan Koukash creating a spark off the pitch and on social media.
The ultimate goal for the Centurions, who currently hold the fifth spot in the league, is promotion. But for now, the attention turns to the famous Challenge Cup, in which they were knocked out by Hull KR in the fifth-round last season.
Former NRL half-back and Leigh Centurions number nine Daniel Mortimer has expresses his desire for a successful cup run with his side, admitting it’s a test that’s needed.
In the previous season, Salford succeeded in two-out-of-three fixtures against Leigh, including a 36-22 win at Newcastle’s Magic Weekend, leaving Leigh with the taste of revenge.
“Ultimately if we want to gain promotion this year we need to win against Super League teams,” said Mortimer.
“It will be a great chance for us to try and prove we are capable of Super League status. More importantly we need to keep building on the club’s recent form and there is no better way to do that than against a super league team.”
Leigh beat Championship-rivals London Broncos 40-0 in the fifth round and recently again 40-30 in the regular season, but Mortimer missed out due to injury and is excited to get back onto the field.
“I can’t wait,” said the 28-year-old.
“It has been a frustrating start to the year personally with injury, but this team has done a great job to turn the season around. I just want to do my job within the team. We would love to make the finals in the challenge cup, so this game is a big focus this week.
“Our team has won a few games in a row now. However, in order to be a super league team, we need to beat Super League teams.
“This week is a great opportunity to see where we are at. We have a huge month ahead in the championship, so a win would help boost our confidence going into a tough month of games.
The Centurions host Salford this Sunday at the Leigh Sports Village, in which Leigh defeated the Devils in 2015 in the cup, and Mortimer admits it’s everyone’s dream to play at Wembley.
“Everyone I talk to in Leigh says they dream of one day supporting the team at Wembley in the challenge cup final.
“I would love to be part of the team that accomplishes that dream.”