Leigh Centurions can confirm this evening that Willie Swann, a star of the club's 2004 promotion winning season has returned to the club in a coaching capacity.
The former Samoan International, a talisman on the field where his enthusiasm often proved a major source of inspiration, returns to the club where he made arguably his biggest playing impact, as a part time Skills Coach to Football Manager Darren Shaw and First Team Player Coach Paul Rowley.
Willie was to spend two seasons with the Wolves before linking up with Rochdale in 1998. He gave good service to the Hornets, playing more than fifty games in two years. During one game against Leigh in 1998, Swann ran in four tries to help Rochdale to a 64-20 win.
He joined Hunslet for the 2000 season and despite the Hawks finishing a long way down the table following their Grand Final win of the previous year, Willie proved a star performer with 10 tries in 21 games. Six of those came in one game when Lancashire Lynx were brushed aside 66-6 and Swann gave a masterclass in support play.
Willie joined Leigh ahead of the 2001 season and went on to be a Hilton Park regular over four seasons. He made 98 appearances in total for Leigh including roles in the club's Trans Pennine Final win over Keighley, the following season's Grand Final against Huddersfield and two finals against Salford in 2003.
2004 proved a memorable year for Willie as he appeared from the bench in both the Arriva Trains Final success and the Grand Final, helping Leigh gain that elusive promotion to Super League.
With Blackpool joining the league in place of Chorley in 2005, Swann moved up to the Fylde coast. It proved an eventful season. Willie wound his playing career down but got his first coaching opportunity when he and Liam Bretherton took the reigns. Between them, Bretherton and Swann managed to stave off the wooden spoon, a great achievement considering the turbulence at the club.
Spotting potential in his former player, Darren Abram approached Swann with the chance of working at Spotland as his number two. It proved a successful partnership and Hornets finished in fifth position, well ahead of pre-season expectations.
Swann left his position at Rochdale with the intention of returning to New Zealand, but a change of plan sees him instead back at Hilton Park.
First Team Player Coach Paul Rowley made the following comments on the appointment.
"Darren (Shaw) and I have been handling all aspects of coaching and training, but we realised that once the season starts we'll need that extra pair of hands, as I will be having a playing role also."
"Darren and I are very pleased to welcome Willie on board. He fits in really well with the club's philosophies, and has a wealth of experience that will make him great addition to our back-room staff"