Leigh Centurions are set for a busy day of recruitment with a number of signings set to be announced by the club.
The club announced on Thursday that it had reached settlements with the final two players left on full-time contracts, securing the club’s future as a result.
It has left them in a position to start announcing their squad for 2019, with their first announcement of the day unveiling the arrival of prop Andy Bracek from Swinton Lions.
Bracek, a Wales international who captained the club Lions last season, has linked up with his hometown club on a one-year deal.
“It’s been a bit of a waiting game since the end of the season and a few clubs were in for me,” he said.
“But I bided my time because I’ve always wanted to play for Leigh. I held my nerve and I’m so glad I did.”
Iain Thornley signs
The second signing of the day was Iain Thornley, who was released by Catalans Dragons at the end of 2018 and represents a signing of intent for the Centurions.
“It’s the perfect move for me and I can’t wait to get started,” Thornley says.
“I’ve been planning for a career and life after rugby and Rugby League Cares have been a tremendous help while I really appreciate what Leigh Centurions have also done to welcome me.”
“My brother Andy was at Leigh at the time alongside John Duffy and it was great to play that game and a proud moment for me,” Thornley says.
“Andy knows Duffy really well and I’ve known him a long time too so it was a fantastic when the chance came to play for him here at Leigh.
“He’s trying to rebuild the club and it’s a huge honour for me to be in at the start of it all. I’ll do everything I can to help.
“You look around the ground and the facilities and everything is Super League standard and the fans are so passionate. We need to get back up there as soon as possible.”
Luke Adamson joins
Third to be announced is Luke Adamson, a Leigh East junior signing from Rochdale Hornets.
“My career has come full circle because I played my junior rugby with Leigh East,” he explains.
“Coaches like Phil Molyneux and Glen Campbell had a big impact on me at that crucial age between 15 and 17 and we went on tour to Australia in 2003 which was an incredible experience.
“Although I have only had a few training sessions I can already tell being at Leigh training under John Duffy that I’ve made the right decision coming here.
“Training so far has been brilliant and it’s the best start to a preseason I’ve ever had. John’s man management is brilliant and preseason here is so different to that at other clubs. He involves one-on-ones and push games and makes it a lot of fun. It’s not all been about being flogged. Everyone is on board.”
Stefan Marsh on board
An eye-catching signing, Stefan Marsh is fourth to be announced, joining from Widnes Vikings.
“I’m really looking forward to joining Leigh and really excited about the new season,” he says. “After two bad years at Widnes, results-wise, I decided I needed a change.
“During my time at Widnes I qualified as a personal trainer and I’ve just started at a gym in Wigan. I’m building up my client base and absolutely love the job. It doesn’t feel like going to work.
“I teach classes as well as one-on-one sessions and after Christmas, we will be starting our 12-week Challenges which are always popular. The message is that whatever age you are or what you’ve done or haven’t done in the past fitness-wise, it’s never too late to start.
“The opportunity to sign for Leigh was just what I needed. The stadium is better than most in Super League and the facilities for training are excellent. I’d never really met John Duffy before but I’ve got mates who’ve played under him and they have nothing but good words to say about him.
Declan O’Donnell confirmed
Leigh’s fifth signing is Irish international hooker, Declan O’Donnell.
Dec was part of the Irish squad in the European Championships and turned down an offer in France to join Leigh.
“Dec had an opportunity to go and play in France in their Elite League but he shelved his plans to come to Leigh,” said Head Coach John Duffy.
“He’s an excellent young hooker and he couldn’t have a better mentor than playing and training alongside Micky Higham.
Meanwhile, O’Donnell is looking forward to learning from Duffy and Higham.
“John played quite a bit as hooker back in the day and with him and Micky as mentors, it’s a great chance for me,” he says.
“We’ve only had a few training sessions so far but it’s been really enjoyable and I’m learning so much.
“It’s a great club to be at and everyone is friendly and makes you welcome.
“Already I’m learning so much off Micky. You see the way he trains and how hard he pushes himself and you realise why he’s had such a long career at the top of the game.
Jonny Pownall returns
Following a spell with Toronto, Pownall has returned to the club as part of their rebuild for next year.
Pownall spent the start of his career with his hometown club scoring 60 tries in 92 Leigh games between 2011 and 2016.
“Playing in front of the Leigh fans again will be brilliant. They are so passionate about the club and the game.
“As long as I’m enjoying my rugby, which I’m sure I will under Duffs, my form will benefit on the back of it.”
Andy Thornley and Leigh reunite
Andy Thornley has returned to Leigh Centurions after a spell playing with Swinton Lions.
Thornley played 73 times for Leigh between 2011 and 2014 before moving on to the Lions.
“I’m chuffed to bits to be coming back to Leigh,” Thornley says.
“Duffs rang me to see if I’d be interested and I jumped at the chance. When I left Leigh I was going through a bit of a rough patch personally and Duffs took me on board, empowered me as a senior player and I felt like I went from strength to strength playing under him at Swinton. He built up a good squad there on slender resources and going with him to Leigh was a no-brainer.
“As a club Leigh have always set high standards and with my brother signing as well it will be special to be back at the club.”
Brooks moves from Fev
John Duffy isn’t the only one making the move from Featherstone to Leigh this winter.
He’ll be joined by prop Sam Brooks, who played under Duffy last year.
“I really enjoyed my time at Featherstone playing under Duffs. It was a tough season especially towards the end and for the first time in my career I had to play the full 80.”
Young Wiganer arrives
Jack Higginson has also moved to LSV.
The Ireland international caught the eye for Ireland in the European Championships, scoring twice against John Duffy’s Scotland outfit.
“The other night at training the forwards were really getting stuck into one another at the wrestle. They needed one or two stitches but they just got back on with it. At least us backs know we’ve got some big lads to take us forward.”
Following brother Luke to Leigh is Toby, who becomes the club’s 12th signing following his move from Rochdale.
“If you sign the Adamson brothers you’ll get blood, sweat and tears. We’ll give 100 percent from the first second till the clock is ticking over on 79 minutes and 59 seconds. We’ll always rip in.”
The final one
Is Mitch Cox, the youngster who played for Leigh in the Champuonship Shield last year.