The Million Pound Game is one of the most exciting yet daunting fixtures in the rugby league calendar.
This year it will be the top two Championship teams rather than the hysteria of the Middle 8s where Super League teams have the chance to get relegated.
However, it has been thought all year that the team that finishes top will be given home advantage in the play-off final, otherwise what is the advantage of finishing top?
Yet, with the Championship Summer Bash well underway at Headingley, Premier Sports pundit Ross Fiddes apparently revealed that the Million Pound Game will be held at Headingley, too.
It would be the first time since 2008 that a Championship Grand Final will have been held on neutral ground instead of the stadium of the higher-ranked side.
— Andrew Foster (@andrewfoster101) July 30, 2022
Meanwhile, one of those teams widely expected to be in the final is Leigh Centurions.
Winners of the 1895 Cup and first in the second flight, promotion looks to be within the club’s grasp. And, a lot of that has been down to signings that owner Derek Beaumont has bankrolled.
One of those has been star winger Blake Ferguson who has now signed a new two-year deal at the Leigh Sports Village.
Ferguson has made a big impact already since arriving in mid-season, scoring eleven tries in nine games and earning a winner’s medal in the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup Final victory over Featherstone Rovers.
He has scored 149 career tries, 138 in a club career that began with Cronulla Sharks in 2009 and has since seen him play for Canberra Raiders, Sydney Roosters, and Parramatta Eels. On the representative stage he has scored a further 11 tries including six in seven games for Australia.
Head of Rugby Chris Chester said: “This is a huge signing for Leigh Centurions. When you look at the quality of overseas players the club has had over the years, Blake must rank as one of the best signings the club has ever made.
“He is a top-class NRL, State of Origin and International player at the highest level.
“For him to re-sign at Leigh Centurions shows the strides the club has made in the last 12 months.”
Mr Chester revealed some of the background in the efforts to re-sign Ferguson and praised the contribution of owner Derek Beaumont, and head coach Adrian Lam.
“There has been big interest in Blake in the UK, and we have fought off stiff competition over here,” he added. “Derek, Adrian and I have a great relationship with Blake’s agent Sam Ayoub and without that, and without Derek’s financial backing again, this deal would not have been possible.”
Assessing the impact Ferguson had already made since his arrival at Leigh Sports Village, Mr Chester said: “Blake is a vastly experienced player and a bubbly character. The intensity he brings to training, match preparation and the standards he sets on the field have been instrumental in our form in the last six or seven weeks.
“You can see his quality and communication skills and he is bringing out the best in players like Ed Chamberlain who plays alongside him and teaches him so much.
“Blake has been there and done that and it is priceless to have someone like that in your squad.
“Experience goes a long way and offensively and defensively Blake contributes so much to the team.
“It’s great to have him around the club.
“Blake can see what we are trying to do at Leigh Centurions. He’s very happy here and he knows that if we get to the Super League, we don’t just want to compete, but we have big plans to compete at the highest level of the competition.”