Championship Focus: Adrian Lam hopes ‘best is yet to come’ for Leigh Centurions ahead of play-offs

It’s been some season for Leigh Centurions – so far.

Records seem to have arrived as regularly as Krisnan Inu goals in recent weeks.

The former New Zealand, Samoa and NRL threequarter’s 16 at home to York City Knights last month bettered Mick Stacey’s previous club best of 15 against Doncaster in the Second Division in March 1976.

The 100-4 victory was also the highest in Leigh’s history, beating the 92-2 triumph over Keighley, also in the second tier, in April 1986.

And in defeating Widnes Vikings 42-4 at Leigh Sports Village in the following game (Championship round 25), the current side set a new all-time mark for league points in a season.

It had been held jointly by Tommy Dickens’ Leigh team of 1985/86 (34 matches) and Huddersfield in the Northern Ford Premiership in 2002 (28 games), when Tony Smith was coach.

Now Adrian Lam, whose charges finished up with 1,306 points from 27 league outings (and conceded just 208), is aiming to follow in the footsteps of Kevin Ashcroft, who was at the helm when Stacey was starring in 1975/76, and Dickens a decade later, with both those campaigns culminating in promotion to the top flight.

To do that will take two more wins – to go with the 30 in 32 in all matches so far recorded by a side who have already lifted the 1895 Cup as well as the League Leaders’ Shield, finishing five points in front of closest rivals Featherstone Rovers.

Now the Centurions are preparing for a play-off against York City Knights at LSV on Sunday, when they aim to book a place in the Million Pound Game, in which they would have home advantage thanks to topping the table, seven days later.

Lam, appointed in mid-November after spending the previous three seasons in charge of Wigan, whom he led to the Super League Grand Final as table-toppers in 2020, has urged players, staff, directors and supporters to appreciate the  achievements so far.

But he also issued a reminder that the primary objective, of clinching a fourth shot at Super League after those of 2005, 2017 and last year, each of which lasted only a season, has yet to be realised.

“I’m really pleased for everyone involved – our owner Derek Beaumont, Chairman Mike Latham, operations manager Neil Jukes, the supporters and really the whole town,” said Lam, who will be on Australia’s coaching staff at the World Cup.

“It’s even an amazing season, one of the most enjoyable I’ve had and one I’ll never forget.

“Winning the 1895 Cup and then getting the League Leaders’ Shield provided the sort of days that don’t come around too often, and it’s right we celebrated what has been achieved up to this point.

“We set those two things as goals at the start of the season, and when I first arrived here (in the wake of relegation after just two wins in 22 Super League matches) we had only seven players signed up.

“I’ve enjoyed working with (head of rugby and old Wigan team-mate) Chris Chester to get players into the club, and there has been a lot of learning, improving and developing as a team.”

Lam, who has one of his former Wigan players Tony Clubb as his assistant coach, added: “We’ve been able to sign some really good players, but the main thing is the group as a whole, because it’s always down to a team effort.

“I was pleased with the way we finished the (regular) league season, because there were some excellent performances which have given us something to work off in preparation for the play-offs.

“There have been some great moments, but hopefully not our best.

“We are all putting all our energy into trying to ensure that is still to come.”

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