Iain Thornley eager to put the spark into Leigh Centurions’ Super League return

Iain Thornley was re-wiring a hotel when news broke that Leigh Centurions were back in Super League – now he wants to give his playing career one final spark.

The 29-year-old spent almost a decade as a full-time player after coming through the ranks at Wigan before joining Catalans and Hull KR. His switch to Championship Leigh at the start of 2019 was part of a move to plan for life after rugby as his started an apprenticeship as an electrician.

But with that almost complete and the Centurions chosen ahead of five rivals to replace Toronto in the top flight this year, the centre has now been given another shot at Super League that he is eager to take. Thornley explained: “I was on site at a hotel in Manchester when the decision was announced.

“I had to set my alarm to remind me when it was on, and when it happened I was watching it live on my phone on SkyGo. I was basically helping to wire the hotel and for five minutes I was watching that with my heart racing.

“I just didn’t expect it – I thought Toulouse would get in so when they said Leigh it was an unbelievable moment. You could see how much it meant to everybody at the club when Sky showed the decision being read out.

“We were preparing to do it the hard way this year on the field through the play-offs, which would have been difficult because there’s some good teams with the same goal. But it shows everything that the club put forward in its application was spot on because it was a unanimous decision to choose Leigh.”

Thornley isn’t underestimating the size of the test ahead of the Centurions, who will receive around £500,000 less central funding than their 11 top flight rivals. The club has had two solitary seasons in Super League in 2005 and 2017 and were relegated both times – but Thornley believes John Duffy’s squad can defy the odds this time.

He added: “I’ve got to be honest it’s a massive challenge. We’ve still got a bit of recruitment to do because the squad isn’t at 25 or 26 players yet, and we know we have some catching up to do with the speed of the game.

“It’s a massive step up and a short space of time to get to that level, but we’re definitely confident and feel happy that the hard stuff we’re doing now in pre-season will get us there.

“We want to make sure we’re not there just to make up the numbers – that we deserve to be in Super League and stay there.”

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