It was a tough year for Leigh in the top flight – wins were hard to come by, but the club consistently battled through adversity when the odds were stacked against them.
With their fate already sealed for 2022, Leigh restored some pride with an impressive 26-18 win against Wakefield in their last home game of the season. There were positive signs, and it gave the club a platform to push on in the off season to ensure they were back in the Super League as soon as possible.
The club acted quickly and appointed Adrian Lam – a man with plenty of experience at all levels of the game, as both a player and a coach. Narrowly missing out on a Grand Final victory in 2020 as Wigan Head Coach, he guided the team back into the play-offs last season and although his reign came to a disappointing end, he was responsible for the breakthrough of several promising Wigan youngsters.
Lam’s side have only had one pre-season test ahead of this weekend’s season opener, but it was as tough as they come – Leigh travelled to the Totally Wicked Stadium to take on current Betfred Super League Champions St Helens for Alex Walmsley’s testimonial game.
St Helens had their work cut out for them throughout, with the Centurions putting in a dogged display on a cold night on Merseyside. They fell to a 16-6 defeat, but made a fine account of themselves against a world class side.
Many players made their debut, following a busy off season of transfer activity for Leigh as they set their sights on promotion:
- Aaron Smith (St Helens – Loan)
- Tom Nisbet (St Helens – Loan)
- Chris Green (Wakefield Trinity)
- Jacob Jones (London Broncos)
- Ed Chamberlain (Salford Red Devils)
- Joe Wardle (Huddersfield Giants)
- Jayden Hatton (Widnes Vikings)
- Luis Roberts (Swinton Lions)
- Jy Hitchcox (Toulouse)
- Caleb Aekins (Canberra Raiders)
- Keanan Brand (Warrington Wolves)
- Ata Hingano (Salford Red Devils)
- Nene MacDonald (North Devils)
- Tom Amone (Wests Tigers)
- Craig Mullen (Newcastle Thunder)
- Ryan Brierley (Salford Red Devils)
- Matty Russell
- Lewis Tierney
- Matty Wildie
- Alex Gerrard
- Nathaniel Peteru
- Tom Spencer
- Brendan Elliot
- Nathan Peats
- Jack Logan
- Iain Thorney (Wigan Warriors)
- Junior Sa’u (Washington Old Glory)
- Blake Wallace (Retired)
- Ben Flower (Retired)
- Tyrone McCarthy (Retired)
- Liam Hood (Wakefield Trinity)
- Ben Hellewell (Featherstone Rovers)
- Jordan Thompson (York City Knights)
- James Bell (St Helens)
- Jamie Ellis (York City Knights)
- Nathan Mason (Huddersfield)
- Matty Gee (Halifax Panthers)
- Jai Whitbread (Wakefield Trinity)
One to Watch
Already with a storied career to his name aged just 24, halfback Ata Hingano was one of several eye-catching signings by Leigh in the off season.
Hingano was one of the stars of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup as Tonga came within a whisker of reaching the final and has spent time with New Zealand Warriors and Canberra Raiders.
However since 2019, he has struggled to find a home with the effects of the Pandemic not helping his cause.
The Auckland-born man proved to be a fine addition to Salford on a short-term deal last year but, with his partner Sade Rihari now turning out for Huddersfield Giants in the Betfred Women's Super League, he will be hoping to finally lay down some roots in the UK this year.
With Leigh a more permanent home in 2022 as they go in search of a promotion, he could become one of the stars of the Betfred Championship show.
2022 FULL SQUAD:
Keanan Brand, Ed Chamberlain, Chris Green, Ata Hingano, Jy Hitchcox, Mark Ioane, Jacob Jones, Nene Macdonald, Joe Mellor, Tom Nisbet, Ben Reynolds, Luis Roberts, Adam Sidlow, Aaron Smith, Sam Stone, Joe Wardle, Caleb Aekins, Tom Amone, Jayden Hatton
Leigh host Whitehaven on Saturday 30th January for their Betfred Championship season opener, kick off at 15:00.