Betfred Championship Leigh Centurions

Saint Douglas moves to Championship club

Embed from Getty Images

Luke Douglas of St Helens has joined Betfred Championship club Leigh Centurions on an initial one-month loan deal, days after the clubs confirmed a dual-registration agreement between the two for 2019.

While the 32-year-old front-rower made over thirty appearances last season for the Saints, missing only two of the club’s league and cup matches in the process, the return to fitness of England international Alex Walmsley and arrival of Joseph Paulo from the NRL has seen the Scotland man fall down the pecking order. The forward has huge experience, having made in excess of 300 appearances throughout his career across both the NRL and Super League.

The Centurions’ head coach John Duffy has worked previously with Douglas with the Scottish national team and the 38-year-old emphasised the positives of Douglas’ approach to the game. “I have known Luke for a number of years and he is the most professional player I have ever come into contact with during my time in rugby league,” he told the media following the signing’s confirmation. “He’s a smart fit into our side at a crucial stage of the season and will add so many qualities as well as a steadying influence. He’s got lots of great experience and is a cool head in any situation,” Duffy added.

Leigh kick off their campaign on Sunday 3rd February with a home match against Toulouse, the French team being one of the teams expected to be competing at the top end of the table throughout the season.

Betfred Championship Championship and League One Leigh Centurions

Woods makes Leigh move

Wigan Warriors’ young half-back Josh Woods has completed a one-year loan move to Leigh Centurions, the clubs announced today.

Woods, 20, made eleven appearances for Wigan in 2018 with thirteen more coming during a spell with Swinton Lions. In the Warriors’ jersey, he scored two tries but will no doubt remember most fondly his last-gasp drop goal which gave the cherry and whites a 13-12 victory over Warrington in July. The news of his temporary move to Leigh came shortly after Wigan announced that Woods, Sam Powell and Harry Smith had each signed new three-year deals with the club.

John Duffy, the new Leigh head coach after moving from Featherstone, told the media tha “it will be a dream come true for Josh and his dad, Mick as they are both ardent Leigh Centurions fans and season ticket holders on the North Stand.” The former player explained his belief that Woods can really help the Centurions as they look to rebuild as a part-time club in 2019. “Josh is a very classy half-back and has already gained a lot of experience in both Super League and the Championship, playing on dual registration in the past two seasons at Swinton Lions,” he said, adding that the opportunity to team up with fellow new signing Martyn Ridyard in Centurions colours. “He’ll greatly benefit from the experience he’ll get here. This will serve him and Wigan Warriors well in the future, so it’s a win-win for everyone,” Duffy added.

Woods himself expressed his delight at moving to the club he follows. “I can’t wait to pull on a Leigh Centurions shirt. It all feels a bit weird at the moment. I’ve supported Leigh all my life and it will be great to play for the club,” he told the media following the announcement. “I will still train at Wigan every day and join up with Leigh on a Thursday evening for the team training so I’ll get the best of both worlds.”

Betfred Championship Leigh Centurions

Beaumont admits Centurions future in doubt

After failing to finish in the Betfred Championship’s top four in 2018 and, with that, missing out on a spot in The Qualifiers, Leigh Centurions’ owner Derek Beaumont saw fit to cut costs at the club.

With one game remaining before the league split, the transfer deadline arrived and, in order to see the season through, the club had to allow many of its’ highest earners to leave the club – despite there still being an outside chance of making the top four. At the same time, Beaumont put the club up for sale and admitted that, without new investment, the club wouldn’t be able to continue in the same fashion as it had in recent years.

Tonight, with further investment or a takeover having thus far not materialised, the club’s owner admitted that Leigh’s future as a professional club is in serious doubt. Appearing on BBC Radio Manchester, Beaumont explained that part of the reason for that is down to the club having not yet agreed severance terms with two of their players, players who the owner revealed have to leave the club for financial reasons. “There’s no way it can survive if it’s got to pay two players full time,” he explained, adding that “when 40% of your playing budget would be taken up by those two players, that you’re trying to arrange to move on, it leaves very small amount of money to recruit 20 players.” He further imparted that, with that remaining money to build a squad, the Centurions would struggle to survive in the second tier.

It marks a total reversal of fortunes in recent years for the Leigh club who, under Beaumont, have experienced success. From 2014, the Centurions finished top of the second tier for three consecutive years and, in 2016, won promotion to Super League. That stay was to last merely one year however and, having blown a lead in the Million Pound Game in 2017, they were relegated at the hands of Catalans Dragons.

Despite recruiting impressively in the off-season in preparation of challenging for an immediate return to the top flight, a poor start to the season ultimately made a top four finish just too much for the Centurions and now the club’s future is uncertain. Currently, they have no players on their books as well as having no coach. They have been hit with RFL imposed sanctions which will not be lifted until the club have resolved the dispute with the two unnamed players, sanctions which restrict them from signing any players.

If resolutions can’t be agreed, there is genuine concern that the club could fold. “If it does have to start again because it can’t honour contracts that are too much, I will feel some personal responsibility towards that,” he explained, stating that, should the club be taken to court, he will strive to continue the club in some form.