Speculation was growing last night that John Duffy was set to quit his role as Featherstone Rovers head coach and take over at their Championship rivals, Leigh Centurions.
For Duffy it would be a move closer to home and to a club where he made more than 200 appearances as a player.
He is still under contract for 2019 with Rovers after arriving from Swinton Lions in July, 2017, but is believed to have held talks over the vacant head coach position at Leigh.
Rumours of the switch intensified when Featherstone’s players were back in for pre-season training on Monday night, but Duffy was not reportedly present.
It is not clear whether that was by prior arrangement following the coach’s commitments with Scotland in the European Championships.
Duffy has emerged as Leigh’s number one target as they look to get a head coach in place before they put their totally revamped squad together for the 2019 season following financial meltdown this year. It would be a big challenge for Duffy to go there at this time, but the Centurions have a number of signings in the pipeline after freeing up some money by releasing almost all of their full-time players.
Their failure to reach the Qualifiers last season led to owner Derek Beaumont dramatically cutting costs and it would be a real statement of intent if they could prize Duffy from Featherstone.
Duffy has been facing a similar story of cutbacks with Rovers, who have also lost a number of players from last season’s squad, although they have made some strong signings with Brett Delaney arriving from Leeds Rhinos, Papua New Guinea internationals Thompson Teteh, Watson Boas and Ase Boas set to arrive in January and Brad Day joining from Batley Bulldogs after an impressive 2018 campaign in the Championship.
They have been able to retain key players from 2018 in Martyn Ridyard, John Davies, Josh Hardcastle, James Lockwood, Luke Cooper and Scott Wheeldon while several promising young talents have been added to the squad with an eye to the future and the club is in the process of setting up a reserve grade side to help give whoever is in charge more players to choose from in 2019.
The club was asked about the speculation over Duffy’s future at the club, but declined to comment.