Higham’s ready to roll dice for £1m
LEIGH captain Micky Higham admits there could not be more at stake in today’s Million Pound Game against Catalan Dragons.
Twelve months ago, the ambitious Centurions were promoted back to the top flight after a 10-year absence.
But they finished in the bottom four at the end of the regular season, leaving them in the dreaded Qualifiers and at subsequent risk of relegation.
With Hull KR having earned automatic promotion from the Championship, the losers of today’s showdown will slide into the second tier.
Leigh owner Derek Beaumont, whose ambition and financial muscle fuelled the club’s return to the big time, has already pledged to stick around if they lose.
He has also declared head coach Neil Jukes’ job is safe regardless of the result, but the magnitude of the occasion is not lost on Higham. The veteran hooker, 37, who grew up in Leigh and has supported the club since childhood, should feature after shaking off a recent virus.
Higham admitted: “It’s probably the biggest game in Leigh’s history. The Million Pound Game is like no other. We are playing not to win something but for survival.
“It’s a game of jeopardy and there is no real winner, just the consequences of losing. The stakes are massive for both clubs and everyone is aware of the importance.
“As a player you have to stay calm, focused, concentrate on your preparation, the same habits you’ve followed all your career, and ensure you take the emotion out of it.
“We’re going into the game with confidence on the back of good form and there can be no looking back and no regrets. We’ll be ready.”
Jukes’ side have won their past two matches comprehensively against Championship teams Halifax and London, ahead of a game where home advantage could be crucial.
Catalans, by contrast, have struggled since former England boss Steve McNamara replaced Laurent Frayssinous in June and suffered a dismal home defeat to Widnes seven days ago.
McNamara said: “Everyone’s aware of the consequences of it not going our way There is no need to out pressure on the players, they’re fully aware of the importance of it.”
Catalans bring Greg Bird and Laurent Belmas into their squad and prop Sam Moa said: “It feels a bit like a Grand Final with so much at stake. As a club, we deserve to be in Super League and that’s the way we’ll approach this weekend’s game.”