Higham issues Million Pound Game rallying call

Leigh Centurions captain Micky Higham has issued a rallying cry to Leigh supporters and he has asked any who have not yet bought tickets to get down to the Leigh Sports Village.

Ticket sales for the crucial clash are heading for more than 7,000.

“Leigh is a massive Rugby League town,” Higham told the Centurions’ website.

“The passion for the game here is incredible. The club is such an important part of the fabric of everyday life here.

“You see the commitment of the fans, the way they travel everywhere to support the team, London on a Friday night, Catalans for the weekend, Hull on a Bank Holiday weekend. Amazing.

“You look at the sponsors we have- and we have had some brilliant news these past few days with main sponsors pledging their support at increased values for next season irrespective of what division we are in.

“That sends out a very powerful message not only to the people of Leigh but to the game as a whole that we are here to stay and that we will build each year and become a big player and an established force at the top level of the game for years to come.”

Higham continued: ” It seems only five minutes ago that we all gathered for pre season training last November. Nearly eleven months ago, scary. You look at the season and the way the club has adapted to life as a fully fledged Super League club. I think we have made fantastic progress.

“Derek invested a lot of resources in the back room and medical staff and will all the expertise we have in those departments plus the fantastic facilities we have at LSV we are the envy of most other Super League clubs.

“The Aussies that come over are blown away by what they find when they arrive and say it compares very favourably with any club in the NRL. That’s a measure of the enormous progress we have made.

“I know that Derek (Beaumont) has been hugely inspired and humbled to see the support he has received for all the investment he has poured into Leigh Centurions.

“Derek is simply inspirational, a man with a burning passion for Leigh to succeed and a deep love for the town with a great sense of responsibility for what the town’s club means to the people of Leigh and surrounding areas.

“Above all he is grounded, approachable, humble and a leader. And he has shown his leadership abilities all year long in good times and at times when things looked like they weren’t going our way.

“The Million Pound Game is different. It’s like no other. We are playing not to win something but for survival, it’s a game of jeopardy, there’s no real winner, just the consequences of losing.

“The stakes are massive for both clubs and everyone is aware of the importance.

“But as a player you have to stay calm, focused, concentrate on your preparation, the same habits you’ve followed all your career, ensure you take the emotion out of it.

“LSV will be rocking, it’s probably the biggest game in Leigh’s history.

“We’re going in to the game with confidence on the back of good form.

“We need the whole town behind us so I urge every supporter of Leigh Centurions. Get down to LSV and support the team. We are in this together. You are our 18th man.

“No looking back. No regrets. We’ll be ready.”

The Catalans are boosted by the return of experienced Australian forward Greg Bird, who succeeded in having a four-match ban cut to three, while Higham himself is set to return, alongside overseas trio Samisoni Langi, Mitch Brown and Cory Paterson, after a three-match absence with a virus.

“It would be great to be in the mix and have an influence,” said Higham, who at 37 could be the oldest player in Super League next season if the Centurions retain their Super League status and he decided to carry on.

“We will be treating it as a cup final and it’s time for our big-game players to step up. It’s an exciting challenge. We will go out there and give it our best shot.”

Leigh squad: Mitch Brown, Lachlan Burr, James Clare, Ben Crooks, Matty Dawson, Josh Drinkwater, Matthew Fleming, Ryan Hampshire, Harrison Hansen, Micky Higham, Liam Hood, Sam Hopkins, Samisoni Langi, Antoni Maria, Cory Paterson, Ben Reynolds, Greg Richards, Glenn Stewart, Danny Tickle.

Catalans Squad: Krisnan Inu, Brayden Wiliame, Fouad Yaha, Luke Walsh, Richie Myler, Sam Moa, Paul Aiton, Louis Anderson, Justin Horo, Greg Bird, Julian Bousquet, Benjamin Garcia, Jason Baitieri, Vincent Duport, Iain Thornley, Lucas Albert, Thibaut Margalet, Lambert Belmas, Lewis Tierney.

A full report, photos, analysis and comment from the Million Pound Game will feature in Monday’s edition of League Express.