Rugby league fans stunned at John Asiata decision ahead of St Helens reunion

Leigh Leopards are taking on St Helens tonight as they look to cement their top four spot and hurt Saints’ chances of taking top spot from Wigan Warriors but the Leopards are without perhaps their best player.

The Super League Champions are hoping to avenge their defeat to the Challenge Cup winners in the semi-final.

That game was hugely controversial given the game saw Alex Walmsley and Agnatius Paasi suffer season ending injuries at the hands of John Asiata leading to a passionate statement from Paul Wellens.

With possible bad blood there, Wellens warned his side to remain disciplined on Saints TV:

“We’ll play this game the same way we’ve been playing or would play any other game, we’re going out there to work hard for each other, but we want to retain our discipline.

“What I think got lost in the aftermath of that is the fact that my grievances weren’t with Leigh as a Rugby League Club. I think Leigh have been a real shining light in 2023 in terms of what a strong Rugby League Club should look like in this country.

“I think Derek Beaumont, the way he’s invested into the club, the stuff they do off the field, Adrian Lam, I think he’s a wonderful coach, he’s getting his team playing in a great way.

“I have a lot of respect for Leigh and the people that work there, I think they do a fantastic job. Although I would have loved for us being at Wembley a few weeks ago, it was also in some way very nice to see a team like Leigh get the rewards that they deserve as well. So, certainly no grievances on my part with Leigh.”

However, in a shock twist Asiata has been left out by the Leopards tonight.

It has been suggested that this is to protect him with rugby league fans stunned on social media.

Another reason suggested was that Leigh would be wary of bans for their final three games of the regular season, and potential playoff matches.

Another fan noted that Asiata wasn’t the only star player to miss out.

One Leigh fan had a more reasonable explanation than the claims that Asiata was running scared, revealing he’s injured.

On a potential rivalry with Leigh, Wellens said this week:

“I think the more of those types of games we can get in Super League, the better. We have a great rivalry with Wigan, that sells itself.

“Obviously, our rivalry with Warrington as well, it’s grown over the years. To build a similar rivalry with a club like Leigh would be excellent too.

“We’re looking forward to the weekend, the challenge that that presents us, and the atmosphere that it will generate. Like all clubs, you want to play in front of a lot of fans and you want the best atmosphere, and I think we’ll see that on the weekend.”