Adrian Lam on John Asiata’s exit, his new long-term injury and “honest conversations” about his departure with Leigh Leopards squad

ADRIAN LAM has had his say on John Asiata’s exit, the loose-forward’s new long-term injury and “honest conversations” he has had to have with the rest of the Leigh Leopards squad following that news.

Asiata will link up with Hull FC at the end of the 2024 Super League season on a three-year deal, but he is currently sat on the sidelines with another long-term injury.

Having played just 30 minutes against Catalans Dragons in the 30-2 win a fortnight ago, Asiata then injured himself in training – with a lay-off of over a month confirmed by the Leigh boss.

“He is very influential with the way I play as a coach, we have to change completely as a group when he’s not playing and we’ve struggled with that at times this year,” Lam said.

“He played 13 minutes and then injured at training a couple of days later. We are learning to play without him. He has had a hamstring tear, so over four weeks with that.”

Lam did also emphasise that Asiata still has a role to play for Leigh in 2024.

“I think good on him securing that deal. It’s a decision he has made financially for him and his family in what will probably be the last contract of his career and that’s all he could wish for as a player.

“We made a play for him and we weren’t up to it and that’s the way it falls. I’d like to think of John after he leaves here as someone that has brought great joy to this town. I love the player, I love the bloke and he loves the team and the fans.

“What he’s done for this club and town is nothing short of sensational but he’s still got a job to do for us here. He has made a decision to move and we have to get on with it.

“The club will survive long after John has gone.”

The Leigh head coach revealed that he has had conversations with the Leopards squad following the news of Asiata’s exit at the end of the season, but that he doesn’t believe that the news has unsettled any players.

“In the dressing room before the game on Saturday, I didn’t see any indication of that (unsettled players) and the way we’ve trained there is no indication of it either.

“In the back of their mind and in their subconscious thinking maybe there is something there because there are a lot of players out of contract. That can be disturbing to a group and a team.

“I think John being the captain maybe played a part in some mindsets but we’ve addressed that and I’ve addressed that very clearly and what we need to do as a group moving forward. John has also got to leave that legacy behind.

“As a coach, I believe that the players need to get as much information as they can on every issue in life, rugby league and family. The more they know about the situation, the quicker they understand it.

“I was honest about it to all of them and that we need to move on as a group. They get it, as human beings, once they have clarity, they can make smarter decisions based off of that.

“I think we’re in a really good place with that and I think we will move forward quickly from that situation.”

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