After being unable to participate in the Super League Reserves competition in 2023 despite being entered into the competition, Leigh Leopards are set to launch a reserves team.
Academies and reserves sides have been a long and well debated topic especially in recent times with both Castleford Tigers and Bradford Bulls denied Elite Academy Licences in 2021 but have since found their way back to them.
Leigh don’t presently have an academy but they are set to have a reserves side in 2024 holding trials for the team in November.
The club confirmed: “For the 2024 season Leigh Leopards will be fielding a reserve team with the aim of offering a pathway to play in the first team.
“We want to try and unearth any hidden gems in the area that could go on to play for Adrian in the first team. So we are holding Reserve Team Training Session Trial sessions this November. The first one on the 23rd and then one the following week on the 30th.”
Head of Youth Kieron Purtill, who will be leading the sessions, has called for anyone to get involved. “As we look to establish our first reserve team for many years, this is an important part of our male program and gives a true pathway for local talent to progress to the 1st team.
“As a club we are now running U16’s development team (LEAP Squad) a development academy in conjunction with Wigan & Leigh College at U18’s and now a reserve team. The reserve team will allow us to explore talent from different backgrounds while providing depth and playing opportunities for our top squad.”
Owner Derek Beaumont has spoken passionately in the past about wanting an academy side: “You can’t invest in a bank that won’t let you open an account! It’s wrong to criticise the club. We are on a Journey now with the RFL regarding this which we hope will enable us to open that account and invest in an academy soon. Until then we will support the best we can.”
He added on the Sportsman: “That’s what I want and I want to build a youth structure, I want it to be a bigger picture. In the end, that was what got him.
“The players, the young, good players that the top sides were in for, we were competing with Wigan and Saints for players now.”