Leigh legend Alex Murphy backs Leigh to cause Challenge Cup upset

Leigh will be confident of tapping into the spirit of 1971 and beating Leeds in the Challenge Cup, according to the legendary Alex Murphy OBE.

The quarter-final tie has been moved from Leeds to Featherstone and takes place on Friday evening.

Murphy was the Leigh player-coach on that famous May afternoon 47 years ago, when his team, given little chance of success, overturned the big-city boys in one of the most famous Cup Finals the sport has ever seen.

And Murphy is convinced that the Centurions are good enough to turn the tables on Leeds once more.

“This game couldn’t have come at a better time for Leigh,” said Murphy, a member of the Rugby League Hall of Fame.

“They started the season poorly, but they’ve found their form now in spectacular fashion.

“Since the new coach [Kieron Purtill] has come in, he’s got them on the straight and narrow and has them playing good football.

“It’s a big plus for Leigh for the game to have been moved to Featherstone. It’s not the best place to go when you’re not playing well, and the Leeds coach knows he has problems.

“Leigh are not the big outsiders we were when we went to Wembley in 1971.

“They’re playing superbly, whereas Leeds have gone from stop-start to absolutely dreadful. It’s one of those games when people will look at what we did in 1971 and think can it happen again.”

Murphy also believes that Leigh are capable not just of winning promotion to Super League again, but of staying in the top flight.

“They were either a bit unlucky or perhaps slightly over confident in Super League,” he said.

“They should have won the Million Pound Game against Catalans, but they were a bit naïve and lost their discipline.

“They can really challenge for promotion. When you sell over 2,000 tickets to an event like the Blackpool Bash, that tells you how healthy the club is.

“Derek Beaumont is doing a tremendous job in running the club and he will back them. Perhaps he needs some help in building them up to where they need to be. They need to sign players now who are good enough for Super League.

“I think they’re much better now than they were 12 months ago, and if they do go back up, they’ll really fancy their chances of making an impression in Super League.”