Higham’s ready to roll dice for £1m

Daily Express - - SPORT - Ross Hep­pen­stall

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.”

HIGHAM: Jeop­ardy

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.