Duffy enjoying tough challenge of life in the top tier

Leigh might be finding life in Super League tough going – but John Duffy says nothing beats the challenge of competing at the top level.

The 40-year-old was a player the first time the club played in the elite division during the summer era in 2005.

Leigh lasted just one season, just as they did in 2017, when after going up through the Qualifiers, defeat by Catalans in France in the Million Pound Game sent them straight back to the second tier.

Now, as coach, Duffy is trying to defy the odds and stave off an immediate relegation following elevation in place of Toronto through a bidding process.

With the club preparing for the return of fans as they host Wigan in a tasty derby at Leigh Sports Village tonight (Monday), the former Swinton and Featherstone chief is still seeking a first win of the season.

His side pushed Wigan close in their opening fixture before losing 20-18.

Heavier defeats, by Warrington, Huddersfield in the Challenge Cup, Castleford and Salford followed before defending champions St Helens won 22-12 at LSV last time out.

Duffy, who refuses to use a string of injuries as an excuse, says he saw encouraging signs in the spirited performance against Saints.

“We’re getting there, and getting that first win under our belts will make all the difference,” he said.

“It’s been hard. Because we didn’t know we were in Super League until fairly late in the day, we ended up making signings after the other clubs had completed their squads.

“And while Super League restarted last season, the Championship didn’t. That meant we were inevitably more rusty and I think it’s also contributed to the injuries because so many of my lads hadn’t played for such a long time.

“But we knew what we were getting into, and while we could sit here coming up with all sorts of excuses, it wouldn’t make any difference and it wouldn’t help.

“We are where we are, and we want to be where we are, competing against the best teams going.

“The players are enjoying the challenge and so am I. If I’m being honest, it’s come earlier than I expected, because I always thought my first coaching in Super League would have been as an assistant somewhere.

“But it’s a great to be working at this level, I’m learning all the time, and I’ll be a better coach in the long term because of it.”

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