Maitua: Middle 8s tougher this year

Leigh forward Reni Maitua says the Middle 8s and achieving promotion will be a much tougher proposition for the Centurions this season, but believes they are more battle-hardened heading into the new competition.

Leigh failed in their bid to go up in 2015 and will face the likes of Leeds and Huddersfield in the Qualifiers to come.

Maitua, who is retiring at the end of this season, says the Centurions will leave no stone unturned as they prepare for the Middle 8s.

Leigh have not lost a game since round one and have strengthened this week with the signings of Super League players Danny Tickle and Anthony Maria.

“The great thing for the club at moment is were not looking too far ahead and we haven’t all year, we’ve kept our goals more short-term,” he told Love Rugby League.

“We’re under no illusions, we know it’s going to be tough, no one expected Leeds or Huddersfield to be in the bottom four so the task ahead of us is a lot harder than the draw they had last year,

“[But] we’re taking each week at a time and we just want to get through this league and well start working towards the 8s over the next few weeks.

“But I think its a different field this year and obviously they were quite embarrassed last year after the Middle 8s, so we’ll leave no stone unturned for this one and give it the best shot we can.”

Maitua is hanging up his boots soon and wants to finish his long career on a high by achieving promotion.

The Australian has been impressed by the signings of NRL players James Segeyaro and Jamie Soward by Leeds and London.

“For sure, I think Segeyaro is a huge signing for Leeds,” the back-rower said.

“I think the number 9 position in Super League is a very important position because of the tempo of the game, the faster ruck.

“It’s a massive signing, he’s quite quick out of dummy half and he’s a tough kid, he’s creative.

“Having a leader like Jamie coming in to the London side it’ll make things even harder. Its going to be an interesting Middle 8s, a lot of pressure on.

“Its got bit of an NRL feeling for me so its the way I want to go out of my career, hopefully have a successful Middle 8s and hopefully get a TV game and have some big crowds.”

Leigh have had to deal with coach Paul Rowley leaving and other player departures through the season, but Maitua feels the experience has made the team stronger in the end.

“Yeah the thing is we haven’t gone through the season like they did last year, we haven’t won by 60 every week,” he admits.

“We’ve had a bit of adversity, we lost our first game to Batley which was a shock for everyone.

“I think personally it was a blessing in disguise, we’ve had a lot of changes in the halves but we’re winning tight games.

“Going into the Middle 8s we’re going to have a lot tighter games against better opposition but we’ll be a bit more battle-hardened for those games.

“I think we’re kind of blessed we’ve played a lot of the top four sides the last four weeks so we’re hopefully going into the Middles 8s with a top four form and we’re not getting to ahead of ourselves.

“It’s going to be a huge task, the group’s pretty happy at the moment. It’s going to be hard enough to stay in the team or make the team at the moment, which having a bit of competition in the group is always good for a side.”

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