New-look Leigh just want to be competitive

It’s been a turbulent off-season for Leigh, but they enter the season with a new look squad under new coach John Duffy.

Duffy had to recruit a whole squad virtually from scratch following their failure to finish in the top four of the Championship last season, which resulted in the withdrawal of significant funding from owner Derek Beaumont.

The former Leigh player arrived from Featherstone, after little over a year there, and brought with him Leigh lad and playmaker Martin Ridyard to kickstart his recruitment.

Beyond that, he’s recruited several players with a connection to Leigh or a history with the club itself, including the likes of Gregg McNally, Jonny Pownall and Iain Thornley.

Exciting half-backs Josh Woods and Oliver Russell, both Leigh lads who have played together as youngsters, have arrived on loan, but Duffy insists he’s not looking at the top five.

He said: “We’re not looking at top five, we’ve just got to make sure we’re competitive every week.

“With the amount of time we had to put the team together and have pre-season, we’re behind at the minute maybe, we’re not expecting to be up there with the front runners.

“It’s definitely been interesting starting from scratch, just glad that the club has been kept afloat.

“We just tried to get lads in who want to play for Leigh, because that goes a long way when you want to play for the jersey and the supporters, and we managed to get a few who wanted to do that.

“The quality of the Championship will get better as it always does and we’ll look forward to our first game which will be a real massive test against Toulouse.”

Leigh’s 19-man squad for their first game against the Frenchmen is boosted by the inclusion of four players from St Helens, as part of the club’s dual-registration agreement.

Scotland international prop Luke Douglas, who has worked with Duffy at international level, is joined by youngsters Matty Costello, Jack Ashworth and Aaron Smith.

Toulouse are without new signing James Bell and captain Andrew Bentley through injury. Former Leigh winger Ilias Bergal and Tyla Hepi are also recovering from knocks.

Leigh 19-man squad: McNally, Pownall, Thornley, Marsh, Ridyard, Woods, Spencer, Higham, Brooks, Adamson, Thornley, Adamson, Russell, Cator, Bracek, Douglas, Costello, Ashworth, Smith

Toulouse 19-man squad: Ader, Barthau, Boyer, Bretherton, Curran, Dezaria, Evans, Ford, Kheirallah, Marcon, Marguerite, Marion, Maurel, Mika, Parata, Puech, Robin, Santi, Vaivai.