Martyn Ridyard has been used to challenges throughout his career, so what lies ahead in 2020 certainly isn’t daunting for him.
A Warrington junior who was released after two years at the Wolves, he returned to play for his amateur club before belatedly entering the professional game at first-team level with hometown Leigh in 2009.
Over a decade on and Ridyard is now making plans for a deserved testimonial, having spent ten seasons at the Centurions.
He faces competition for his shirt next year, with Ben Reynolds already signed and Josh Woods and Jarrod Sammut heavily linked with the club, in a Championship that looks more competitive than ever.
But the 33-year-old wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Every year there is always competition for places, and that added pressure at training and on game day is good for the club,” Ridyard explained.
“It keeps us all on our toes and makes sure you have to perform week-in, week-out.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge. Hopefully I’ll be playing every week and if I’m not then there’ll be a reason for it.
“It looks like there will be six, seven or eight teams all fighting for the top few spots.
“London will be favourites, having been relegated from Super League, and Toulouse will have a good squad again and be there or thereabouts.
“But if you look at last season and see how York did and Featherstone finished, you can’t write anyone off.
“Halifax weren’t great last season, but I’m sure they’ll come good again and Bradford are building again.
“There are no weak links any more, no top and bottom half. It should be a great competition.”
Ridyard started to make history from the moment he made his Centurions debut, when he became the first player to score points at Leigh Sports Village against London Skolars.
Ten years later he is one of only three players to score 2,000 points for the club.
“I did two years in Warrington’s Academy, but nothing fell into place for me and I came back to Leigh Miners to play with my mates,” he remembered.
“They were some of the best times I’ve had. Not a lot of players get the chance to play with all their mates, and we won some trophies too, which was fantastic.
“The first season I was at Leigh it still just felt like playing rugby, the second year I got more into it and it was more like I was in the professional game.
“It’s all been a bit surreal, but brilliant.
“I was a bit of a late starter. If I’d come through when I was 16 then maybe I’d have been like Micky Higham, doing 20 years.
“I’ve done ten years at Leigh already and usually that means you can apply for your testimonial.
“But because I’d registered at Featherstone in pre-season I had to do another twelve months, so this will be my eleventh season at Leigh.
“I’m very grateful to the RFL for granting it and I’m looking forward to it now.
“I’ll have a game coming up in January and a list of events that we’re working on at the moment.
“There’s nothing set in stone yet and we’re working with the club to make sure nothing clashes with them – we don’t want a function on Saturday night and to be playing Sunday.
“There’s a lot going on and our social media pages should be up and running soon.”
All but a relative handful of games in Ridyard’s professional career have been played in Leigh’s colours, with seven games on loan at Huddersfield in 2017 and the following year at Featherstone the only exceptions.
He added: “To be fair that was probably one of my most enjoyable seasons.
“It was a great group of lads, we were all part-time and I was playing under John Duffy, who’d been a friend for a long time.
“It was nice to go away, but at the same time you miss what you’re used to.
“I can’t speak highly enough of Fev as a club, but it’s always nice to come home.”
© League Express (Mon 2nd Dec 2019)