Leigh Centurions’ pre-season friendly against Salford City Reds has been cancelled for the second time and that has left coach Paul Rowley fuming!
Salford had agreed to play Leigh on December 30, but the Super League strugglers claimed they had too many injuries and postponed the game until this coming Sunday, January 13.
It was a move that was accommodated by the Centurions as they offered their unquestioning support for the club as it also attempted to stave off a winding-up order.
But on Monday of this week, Rowley was speaking to Salford coach, Phil Vievers who then revealed that this Sunday’s game would not go ahead, leaving Leigh desperately short of pre-season preparation in a match situation.
“I was staggered,” said a hugely disappointed Rowley. “Phil told me they had decided last week that they would not play the game against us because Wigan had brought their friendly against them forward to the Thursday and Salford do not have a big enough squad to play two games in four days.
“That’s all very well, but why had they not informed me or the club?
“If I had known this was to be the case I would have used the players differently against Wigan last Sunday and even tried for a game against other opposition on the 13th.
“I am absolutely blazing about this as it leaves us in a situation whereby we will be short of game time when we head into our first league game at Featherstone. Salford were meant to give us a much stiffer test than Wigan last week and it was all part of our preparation.
“I cannot believe they have let us down so badly especially when we had gone out of our way to accommodate them and to try and be helpful when they are in such dire straits financially.
“We have been nothing but supportive of Salford, and after they called off first time would have accepted that was the end of it. But they then offered the revised date.
“To me, once they had made that second commitment they should have stuck by it. I feel that morally they have let us down very badly indeed and they should have ensured they honoured the arrangement they had brokered.”
This fixture cancellation leaves Rowley with only a second warm-up game against Swinton on January 20 to try to hone his side’s playing patterns.
“It’s not ideal, but we will get on with it,” said Rowley. “The good things from the Wigan game can be built upon; although it would have been ideal to have the Salford game to gauge our progress. Nevertheless I thought there were plenty of encouraging signs against a Wigan team that had 12 of their first team squad on show.
“We attacked well and broke down a resolute Wigan defence with some good attacking plays and options, and those players who had not played for a while such as Rob Parker, Thomas Coyle and Simon Finnigan all came through it well. I was also pleased with the pace we showed. Wigan broke on a couple of occasions but we were quick enough to get back.
“Thankfully there were no injuries picked up, and the game time was valuable to all of them. We certainly looked physically sharp and fit.
“But we now have to work extra hard to make up for the lack of game time and prepare ourselves for that fast approaching start of the season.”