Leigh Leopards have already made 12 signings for the new Super League season as they look for avoid relegation for the first time in Super League.
In 2005, 2017 and 2021, Leigh, then the Leigh Centurions, suffered relegation but these 12 signings give Leigh a chance to not only survive but perhaps push for a place in the play-offs.
They have signed Leeds Rhinos’ Grand Finalists Zak Hardaker and Tom Briscoe, beaten Super League rivals to Huddersfield Giants star Ricky Leutele and Castleford Tigers star Gareth O’Brien.
They signed Matt Davis, Jack Hughes, Oliver Holmes, Rob Mulhern and Jacob Gannon from Warrington Wolves.
Meanwhile, the Leopards have confirmed the permanent signings of Tom Nisbet and Aaron Smith from St Helens after they spent last year on loan with the club. Smith is a former Super League Champion after playing in the 2019 Grand Final against Salford Red Devils.
However, they may not end their recruitment there.
Owner Derek Beaumont said immediately after those initial signings revealed that they were interested in adding a middle forward to their ranks for 2023.
This was still when they were over the overseas quota spots until Leeds Rhinos signed Nene MacDonald.
Then rumours started that Blake Ferguson had left the club on compassionate grounds.
However, there was never a full statement from the club on this matter though coach Adrian Lam confirmed that he had gone back home to the Leigh Journal.
As he spoke to the Leigh Journal, he said that there was a chance Ferguson could return.
He said: “There has been a health issue in the family and Blake feels he wants to be there.
“So, we have released him on compassionate grounds. He really wanted to be there with his family.
“It was important for him and also to his indigenous culture. As a club we supported him in that.
“There is no ‘is he coming back, or is he not?’ He has just been granted permission to get back for his immediate family.
“From past experience, players need to be there for as long as they can to help. That seems as though it might be long term but we can’t guarantee that at the moment.
“Our hearts are with him and we support him. We understand where Blake is coming from. He was desperate to get home.”
However, Serious About Rugby League can now confirm, having spoken to a spokesperson for the RFL, that Leigh officially have a quota spot available to use though it sounds like things are still progressing through “the system.”
This means there will likely be one overseas signing before the start of the 2023 season.
Whether this is a prop like Dylan Napa to take that middle spot discussed by Beaumont or a winger to replace Ferguson remains unclear though Wigan Warriors youngster Umyla Hanley has been training with the club.