Hunter-Paul aiming to bow out on a high
Robbie Hunter-Paul believes Leigh Centurions are on the path to a memorable double this season as they welcome Sheffield Eagles to Leigh Sports Village for a Co-operative Championship Final Eliminator on Thursday September 22 (7.30pm).
Leigh lost 35-20 to Featherstone Rovers in a Qualifying Semi-Final last week when Featherstone progressed to the Championship Grand Final, but Hunter-Paul says Leigh won’t take their second bite of the cherry for granted.
“The defeat was probably a good thing for us because it highlighted all the things that we haven’t been doing over the last few weeks and showed us that we need to re-address some issues,” said Hunter-Paul.
“We had a video session on Saturday and it made for painful watching, but it was the perfect opportunity for us to see what we need to get back to. We’ve been able to take positives out of it but it still doesn’t make losing any easier though. We’ve not been used to defeat this season, so it’s also given us an extra incentive now against Sheffield.
“Losing was a reality check and Ian Millward didn’t hold back afterwards, he showed us just how much he wants to win. He may have signed for a Super League club, but his focus is on Leigh and he wants to make sure we all reach our potential.”
The sides have already faced each other three times this season with Leigh coming out on top on all three occasions but Hunter-Paul knows not to underestimate the Eagles side,
“It would disrespectful to say Sheffield won’t be a very tough game,” he added. “They’re a very good team with some great players including a few who I think are good enough to be playing in Super League.
“They have a good system and they’re very competitive. They beat us in the play-offs last year so they know how to do it but we maybe owe them one for that.”
This is Hunter-Paul’s swansong season as a player and as he looks ahead at what could be his last career game, the chance of adding one more piece of silverware at the end of an already glittering career is proving to be big motivation.
“Personally I don’t want this to be my last game and that’s a hugely motivating factor,” said the half-back. “Even if we make it to the final and win, it will still be very emotional for me. I’ve been playing rugby for 31 years and I’ve had to accept that’s it’s now time to call it a day and I’m having to get my head around that approach.
“Getting ourselves right mentally will be very important. I believe 90% of a game is in the preparation and if you prepare correct then you play well and we’re not ready to rest on our Northern Rail victory. It’s at the forefront of our mind that we want to achieve more than that and we need to make that step to the Grand Final.
“For me winning a double would be overwhelming. I came here to help the club take the steps towards their dream of getting into the Super League. There’s a great supporter base at Leigh and what better way to thank all the fans for their support this season than by giving them another trophy win?”
Tickets for the Co-operative Championship Final Eliminatior, Leigh Centurions v Sheffield Eagles on Thursday, September 22 (7.30pm) cost from £14 adult and £7 children and can be purchased by visiting www.leightickets.com or over the telephone on 01942 487888
The Co-operative Championships Kids Go Free offer returns for this year’s Grand Finals Day (Sunday October 2) meaning that for the first time at a Rugby League Final, children have free admission when accompanied by a paying adult.
The East Stand of The Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington, has been dedicated solely to families, so to take advantage of this offer select an East Stand ticket by calling the RFL Ticket office on 0844 856 1113 or by visiting www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk and book your free child ticket under Kids Go Free.
Adult tickets for the Co-operative Championships Grand Finals day at The Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington on Sunday October 2 cost from £14 and can be purchased by calling the RFL Ticket Office on 0844 856 1113 or by visiting www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk