Richard Marshall has warned his players to ignore the Championship table after declaring struggling title favourites Leigh clear front runners for Sunday’s league showdown at the Shay (3.0).
A pre-season tip for promotion back to Super League, the Centurions have won just once in five games in a crisis-hit early season, sacking coach Neil Jukes last week and then losing again, against Featherstone, under caretaker boss Kieron Purtill.
Another loss at Fax would leave them four points behind Marshall’s side, who have a two-from-four record after last weekend’s game at Batley was postponed.
But with a star-studded playing roster, further bolstered this week by the recruitment of Leeds starlet Jordan Lilley on loan, Marshall insisted it will be his team, not the visitors, that go into the game wearing the underdog tag.
“Let’s not fall in love with the league table,” said Marshall, who knows his side will have to perform considerably better than on their last competitive outing, a scrappy 26-20 win at Rochdale a fortnight ago.
“Leigh are a quality, full time side. They were in Super League last season and they put 50 points on us the last time we met.
“There’s some uncertainty there at the moment, but Kieron is a quality coach and he’ll get them playing well at some stage.
“They’ll come good; they’ve signed Lilley this week, Mickey Higham coming out of retirement last week is massive for them.
“Lilley nearly won the game against us when he played for Featherstone a couple of years ago and Higham is quality; I think he probably retired too soon because he is still a top class player.
“They attacked very well at Featherstone last weekend, they were very dangerous near the line, but their concentration levels let them down a little bit.
“We’ve done some work on how they’ll play, but we really need to focus on what we do this week, because we know we need to be better than we have been.
“We need to play on our terms and knock some sets out; if we complete at 50-odd per cent, like we we did in that first half at Rochdale, we’ll be on the wrong end of 40 points.
“But I don’t think not playing last weekend will have done us any harm; we trained on Saturday, came back in on Tuesday and we’ll be fresh and ready to play.
“We know we need everyone in our side to be at their best on the day if we want to sneak this one.”
Marshall has a virtually fully fit squad at his disposal, with long-term absentees Harry Kidd and Adam Tangata the only players unavailable.
And Fax seem likely to be bolstered up front by the presence of Castleford’s France international prop Gadwin Springer, who is poised to make his debut on dual registration.