Stuart Littler explains Leigh Leopards return as club confirm former Ireland boss has rejoined ahead of 2024 season

Ben Olawumi
Leigh Leopards badge, Stuart Littler

Stuart Littler has returned to Leigh as the club's Reserves head coach - Alamy

Stuart Littler says he wants to ‘pass on his experience and guidance’, with Leigh Leopards confirming his return to the club as their Reserves head coach.

Littler made 101 appearances for Leigh between 2011 and 2014, when the club were under the ‘Centurions‘ tagline.

Scoring 32 tries in-between a loan stint at Rochdale Hornets, the now-44-year-old ended his playing days at Swinton Lions before moving into coaching with the Lions in 2017.

Since then, he’s also headed up Oldham – departing midway through the 2023 campaign – and the Ireland national team, relieved of his Wolfhounds duties ahead of the delayed 2021 Rugby League World Cup.

Born in Wigan, Littler represented Ireland during his own playing career, and as their head coach took charge of five games, winning three.

Stuart Littler explains Leigh Leopards return as club confirm former Ireland boss has rejoined ahead of 2024 season

Ahead of the new season, Leigh confirmed his return earlier this morning. He will take charge of the Leopards’ Reserves in 2024, with the club aiming to build their squad depth following a vow to do so by owner Derek Beaumont.

Speaking to the club’s website, Littler – who also featured over 300 times as a player for Salford Red Devils – said: “I’m excited to be back at Leigh and at the prospect of where we can go with this.

“I’d like to thank everyone for the opportunity I’ve been given to help the club, which is in my heart. There’s loads of scope to develop young players at Leigh.

“The potential is there, which I’ve seen from coaching my lads at Leigh Miners, and hopefully I can pass on my experience and guidance.

“It’s another step forwards towards a full pathway that other clubs have had for years, which is what we want, as it makes Leigh stronger.

“Kieron (Purtill, Head of Youth) has done most of the recruitment for the squad, and they are an honest, committed, and driven group.

“There are a few lads in there that maybe feel they missed their opportunity in the past, and now we can nurture that, so everyone grows together.

“As a coach, you aim to improve people and systems, and all the lads have the desire. I can promise the team will be honest, hardworking and humble and will adapt to the challenges that we face during the season. It’s the strength of the group that takes you places.”

‘Stuart has a proven track record of developing players’, says Littler’s new colleague Kieron Purtill

Like Littler, new colleague Purtill also played for Leigh, featuring 85 times between 1998 and 2002 with 18 tries to his name.

Purtill now combines his role as the club’s Head of Youth with one as the Leopards’ Women‘s team’s boss, and is relishing the chance of working with Littler.

The 46-year-old added: “I am really pleased to get Stuart into the club. He is a very experienced coach with a lot of experience at Championship and international level.

“Stuart has a proven track record of developing players from the community game and taking them into the Championship with some going on to Super League.

“He’s a former Leigh player, had an outstanding playing career and now coaches at Leigh Miners and is a local school teacher. So the links he has within our community are wide ranging and highly significant.

“Stuart has a wealth of experience in the game and his man management skills are excellent. He will also bring a lot of energy into the role.

“The position of Reserve team coach is an important one within the club structure, and in recruiting Stuart, we have significantly strengthened our backroom staff.”

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