When the hooter sounds on Leigh Centurions’ latest crack at Super League on Friday, Garreth Carvell will be watching on from the stands at Headingley as the Leythers attempt to ensure a prosperous top-tier future beyond a single season in the face of the odds that are stacked against them.
John Duffy’s side will open up their campaign against last term’s League Leaders’ Shield holders Wigan Warriors hoping they will be third time lucky in their attempts to prolong a stay at the game’s high table for more than one season.
To do so, however, they will have to contend with the limitation of a shorter pre-season preparation period and just over half as much distribution money afforded to their rivals, as part of the conditions attached to them replacing Toronto Wolfpack last December.
But Carvell, freshly recruited as the club’s head of rugby in January, says that they will tackle the challenges head on. And he insists they are doubly determined to ensure that when 2022 comes around, they remain among the sport’s elite.
“The main goal is to stay in Super League,” he says.
“The sooner we can guarantee our place, the sooner we can start to have a crack at improving again. The foundations have already been put down.”
Carvell, a former England international with a pair of Challenge Cups to his name from his time at Warrington, had met with Leigh owner Derek Beaumont on multiple occasions in his role with the Rugby League Players Association, but the possibility of a career switch only arose last year as questions arose about Toronto’s future.
“In summer we met and he said that if Leigh made Super League, there would be a role here for me. As soon as it was announced in December, we discussed what I could offer and what he needed from me. This is a huge challenge in front of us, but the idea of bringing someone in to help take the legwork out of it will help Derek sit back and enjoy it a little more this time.”
Given their late admission to Super League, Leigh’s biggest problem has perhaps been the transfer market.
“To be let in so late caused its own problems with recruitment. We’d signed the majority of our players with the expectation we’d be in the Championship, and we’ve not had much of an opportunity to recruit more quality members.”
But the Centurions will not use this as a reason for falling short.
“It’s massive, but it can be used as an excuse or as motivation, and we’re going to choose the latter,” says Carvell.
“John (Duffy) has bought into that, and the whole club has too. Everyone’s digging in; there’s a brotherhood at the moment and it is a good feeling.
“Yeah, it’s going to be a challenging season but one where I feel we can pick up a few surprises and put on a show as well.”
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