In the first Challenge Cup Final without Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors, Warrington Wolves and St Helens since 1986, Leigh Leopards came away with the win against Hull KR with skipper John Asiata lifting the Challenge Cup trophy becoming the first Leigh player since 1971 to do so.
Asiata though went into the game with controversy around him after his tackle technique led to four injuries against St Helens ending the seasons of both Alex Walmsely and Agnatius Paasi.
Paasi’s knee was “blown to smithereens” according to St Helens boss Paul Wellens.
His ACL, MCL and ankle ligaments were all damaged and the controversy around the tackles led to a push and shove with Elliot Minchella in the final.
Derek Beaumont has since spoken about Asiata.
“The best human being I’ve met in the game is just an absolute quality human being,” he said on the Last Tackle.
“He’s so selfless, so charitable, thinks about others. He’s a great leader with his actions. His actions are always louder than his words, but when he speaks people take notice and he speaks well. He puts his body on the line and he’s so committed.
“He goes out in the community, he coaches one of the local amateur teams and he’s taking the cup this afternoon to Darien House in Chorley, that a lot of rugby people help out and get involved in. I spoke to John for about an hour to convince him to sign for us during the whole COVID situation.
“My views on it is the same my charity stuff is and it was an hour’s talk of a just a real connection and we’ve just got this special connection and he’s a fantastic man who I’ll always be in debt to along with the rest of the players.”
He did admit he doesn’t like Asiata’s tackle technique but explained it only gets dangerous when he is tired: “We don’t like that tackle technique because it puts John at risk as well. He’ll get looked at at the end of the year but I think the reasons he should be talked about are the ones you just talked about.
“So he’s a massive, massive part in what we do with the ball and huge in defence. That was just desperation. People run at him, they target him, tire him out. They got our middles off before half-time.
“The only teams who have done it this year to us since, they’ve worked hard on it. And when he gets tired he’ll do desperate actions, and if he tries a conventional tackle he’ll just put his head there and that’s what he did and if he tries a conventional tackle he’ll pass his scores and we don’t know to handle it.”
Interestingly, Asiata has been involved in some quite humorous chants from Leigh fans ripping on the popular add: “Just sold my car to we buy any car.”
The Leigh fans chant: “Just sold my car to John Asiata.”
And as these chants become common place, We Buy Any Car have collected the best including Asiata’s.
Leigh got a shout out from the company as you can see here.