Wigan Warriors prop snapped up by Super League rivals

The likes of Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors, Warrington Wolves and Hull KR have all made major signings for next year and now Leigh Leopards have been busy in terms of recruitment.

confirm the signing of Kavan Rothwell from Wigan Warriors on a one-year contract.

Rothwell, 20, a prop forward who has developed through the Warriors scholarship and academy ranks, is another young prospect identified by the Leopards coaching team.

Head of Rugby Chris Chester said: “Kavan is a young kid who’s been at Wigan for several years. He represented his country at junior level, and he’s found his opportunities limited at Wigan.

“He’s a big lad, with a good skill set who wants an opportunity, and we can offer him that.

“He will benefit from a full preseason with Adrian Lam, Tony Clubb and the rest of the guys and we are looking forward to working with him.”

Kavan Rothwell made his senior debut on loan for Midlands Hurricanes in June 2023 and later played three games for Barrow Raiders in the Championship, the last in a fine away win at Bradford Bulls.

A former Wigan St Patrick’s junior, he represented England under-16s against Wales four years ago.

“I’m excited and can’t wait to get started,” he said. “I really enjoyed my time at Wigan and had the benefit of some good coaching. I can’t fault Wigan. When Lammy was head coach I trained with the first team quite a bit and hopefully I made a good impression.

“When I started playing, I was a back row but these days I’m a middle. Leigh’s approach came out of nowhere but as soon as I heard about it I knew it was what I wanted.”

Leigh have also signed Jack Darbyshire from Warrington Wolves on a one-year contract.

The son of the late Paul Darbyshire, who played for Warrington between 1989 and 1997 and who later joined the club’s coaching staff, Jack is a highly rated centre who played for Woolston Rovers before graduating through the Wolves scholarship and academy ranks.

Leopards Head of Rugby Chris Chester said: “Jack is a good quality English born centre who will bring young and healthy competition to our squad. We identified that lack of depth in our squad was a major factor in the team falling away at the end of this season. Jack’s signing helps rectify that. We will also be running a reserves side next year and so our signings have one eye on that.

“He will get plenty of opportunities to develop his career at Leigh Leopards. Adrian Lam likes to give young players their opportunity.

“You look at Lammy’s time at Wigan and the young players who came through their system that he helped develop who are now regular members of the first team squad.

“Jack is an intelligent kid with a good Rugby League pedigree, and we are all looking forward to him joining for preseason.”

Jack Darbyshire, who will celebrate his 20th birthday next month, has successfully combined his rugby and academic education and is currently studying for a degree in Psychology at the Open University. He said: “I’m over the moon to sign for Leigh Leopards and extremely grateful for this opportunity. I can’t wait to get started.

“I really enjoyed my time at Warrington and learned a lot from some good coaches. Gary Chambers, who’s now director of rugby, was one constant during his time as head of youth and he had a big influence on my development.

“Some of my time in the scholarship and academy ranks was ruined by the pandemic but that was out of my hands. It’s not worked out for me this year at Warrington so I’m looking forward to a new challenge.

“I came with the Warrington squad for the Super League match at the Leopards Den and it was by far the best away ground I’ve visited for the atmosphere, the music and the fireworks. It felt like a show. I can’t wait to step out to play there in a Leopards shirt.

“The team has been going well and I’ve heard so many good things about the quality coaching staff. I know quite a few players from Warrington like Robbie Mulhern, Josh Charnley, Matt Davis, Jack Hughes and Jacob Gannon and I will settle in quickly.”