When Leigh Centurions were relegated, they lost plenty of their players to other Super League clubs and even Championship rivals last year.
As Featherstone made lots of exciting signings over the winter, the Rovers positioned themselves as favourites for promotion in the eyes of many as Leigh struggled to assemble a deep enough squad.
In their first meeting, Fev beat them in the mud at Post Office Road but over time the Centurions have brought together a remarkable squad that in the end cruised to Super League and are set to turn a few heads in the top division next year.
The Centurions haven’t lost a league game since that Round Two defeat to the Rovers and have only lost once then against Super League side Hull KR in the Challenge Cup and even that was a narrow loss.
It’s been a remarkable journey best described by Head Coach Adrian Lam who revealed the journey Leigh have been on this year to get back to Super League starting the year with just seven players.
“When I signed in December we only had seven players and we’ve built it up as we’ve gone along,” Lam revealed on Premier Sports after his side beat Batley 44-12 to earn promotion.
“We didn’t have a pre-season with a whole lot of them so we’ve had to try and build some momentum through the season.
“The players we brought in were obviously quality and that helps always, the key was to make sure they were happy and playing as a group and we did that.”
He then went on to speak about dealing with the pressure of expectation on a night like tonight when they were overwhelming favourites whilst praising his side’s consistency which helped them reach such a favourable position going into the Grand Final:
“You want to be calm and you think you are until the moment comes and you’ve got to go through the process of trying to swipe them away and stay positive.
“From our best performance to our worst, there’s hardly any difference. The consistency the boys have had put them in a position to perform tonight. We earned the right to have a home game tonight which is a big one and to have all of our fans here and singing like they did was just a great atmosphere and a feel for what’s to come.”
On the fans, he underlined just how important it has been “convincing the Leigh crowd that things were on the up” going onto say: “The conversations I’ve had with Derek Beaumont and Chris Chester have been so positive and brought some credibility back to the town.”
Now it’s on Lam to try and keep Leigh in Super League beyond 2023, something the Centurions have yet to accomplish.