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Leigh Leopards star confirmed as captain despite NRL interest

Leigh Leopards have confirmed that John Asiata will captain them again in 2024 which puts an end to speculation of an NRL move, something owner Derek Beaumont had called out NRL clubs for.

The Leopards confirmed that the loose forward would once again lead the Leopards in Super League after an incredible 2023 campaign that saw him earn Dream Team honours and help the club to silverware.

Asiata became just the third Leigh skipper ever to lift the Challenge Cup and he also helped the team to their best ever finish in Super League, placing fifth and earning a shot at the playoffs.

Such an incredible season was bound to earn attention from clubs down under with reports of NRL sides coming knocking being plentiful, particularly led by respected journalist The Mole.

Writing for Wide World of Sports in July he confirmed that Asiata’s agent had revealed that three NRL clubs were interested in his signature, something Beaumont strongly refuted.

The Leigh Leopards owner took to Twitter responding: “John is contracted and I wouldn’t accept a million quid for him. Anyone reading anything around players leaving I can guarantee you it will be nonsense as nobody is for sale!”

There was even talk of a ‘million quid bet’ between both Beaumont and The Mole and thankfully for the Aussie journalist, he didn’t accept, as it’s clear now that Asiata will be a Leopard in 2024.

Leigh Leopards name Asiata captain again

Leigh Leopards owner Derek Beaumont with Super League Dream Team member John Asiata

Leigh Leopards v St Helens Picture by Olly Hassell/ – 22/07/2023 – Rugby League – Betfred Challenge Cup Semi Final – Leigh Leopards v St Helens – Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington, England – Leigh Owner Derek Beaumont with John Asiata Copyright: x xSWpix.comxt/axPhotographyxHubxLtdxOllyxHassell/SWpix.comx SWP-2146-0056

Asiata led the club admirably during their first season back in Super League so it was no surprise to see Adrian Lam hand him the responsibility again, the only question was around whether Asiata would remain a Leopard.

Now that is confirmed it’s on the loose forward to lead an improved squad and try to push on for more success following the whirlwind 2023 season.

The addition of Australian star Matt Moylan is an upgrade over Ben Reynolds who has departed to Featherstone Rovers, whilst much of the squad has remained the same.

Leigh confirmed Asiata’s captaincy via their club website with Adrian Lam quoted as saying: “Last season John was voted captain by the players, and he’s excelled in the role, not only leading by example with countless stand-out performances on the pitch but being a great role model off it.

“There wasn’t a single reason to consider changing captain, so we haven’t and I’m looking forward to John captaining the team with the help of a very strong leadership group as we look to build on last season’s success.”

Asiata himself added: “This means a lot to me. Obviously last year, being appointed captain, it was a great honour to lead the side into Super League on the back of the rebranding. I was very grateful to be handed the captaincy. It’s something you dream about as a kid growing up.

“I’m now excited for the next chapter at Leigh Leopards. It’s one to keep an eye out for. I think we are going to do some great things this year.

“We have a great bunch of boys who all have a purpose and a goal with what they want to achieve personally and as a team.

“I’m fortunate to have the backing of a great leadership group behind me. They make my job a lot easier. There are a lot of guys with great experience in the NRL and Super League who know how to win things.

“All the players are looking really sharp, and fitness wise we are way ahead of last year. We had a great year last year but now we are aiming for higher standards and higher goals.”

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