22nd March 2018, 11:23 | championship
By Dan Fowler
When Leigh Centurions announced Micky Higham was coming out of retirement, Leythers far and wide were celebrating.
Despite the Centurions' poor start to the Betfred Championship campaign, the re-introduction of the hometown hero certainly brought a bit of positivity back into the club.
The former Super League stalwart admitted other clubs were interested in his playing services but when he was asked to play for Leigh, there was only going to be one outcome.
"It came about when Kieron Purtill took over as head coach," he said.
"We had a meeting, I asked if he had five minutes of his time to see where I fit into his plans.
"Kieron was honest and he said he was going to take the coaching reins himself, he wants to do as much as he can by himself so I asked whether he wanted me to go full-time on the coaching side which is one of my long-term goals.
Who’s coming on Sunday when we welcome @DewsburyRams back to @lsvstadium in the @RLChampionships. There’s a long way to go until the business end of the season so get behind the lads. Tickets are available online here ➡️ https://t.co/2gMwTO0CsN pic.twitter.com/ds5SkyitwF— Leigh Centurions (@LeighCenturions) March 21, 2018
"He said no and I was honest with him, saying I had a few options from teams showing some interest in me playing.
"But he also wanted me to come out of retirement to play for Leigh so I said yes.
"Kieron gave me the opportunity to come out of retirement and with the injury to Dan Mortimer, who can play seven or nine, and Kurt Baptiste going home we were a bit light in that area.
"At the end of last year I didn't want to retire, I felt I had another year left in me but other factors came into it and forced my hand into retiring."
An opening day defeat to Toronto Wolfpack and defeat against Barrow Raiders soon after meant Leigh had failed to take a point against the newly promoted sides.
Then came losses against Toulouse, Featherstone – Higham's comeback game – and Halifax, which leaves Leigh seven points adrift of fourth-place.
However, a scrappy 8-4 Challenge Cup win over Batley Bulldogs in horrible conditions at the Fox's Biscuits Stadium could prove to be a turning point for the hooker and his side.
"I think Sunday will hopefully go a bit of a way to getting confidence back," said Higham.
"A pitch like that, with the conditions, there's a bit of character building there and it was a real relief to get the win.
"They took two penalty goals and we kept them try-less, there's not many teams go to Batley, regardless of what the pitch is like, and keep them scoreless.
"We only scored one try but it was (a pleasing win) for us as defence has been our major issue this year.
"We've been leaking far too many points and we had a real attitude, desire and grit about us in defence on Sunday.
"If we can build on that and maintain that kind of intensity, our attack will come. It was a tough old win."
The Centurions' attention now turns back to the league, with games against Dewsbury and Swinton to come before an almighty clash with London Broncos.
Guess who's back? pic.twitter.com/9szQBiArW9— Championship & League 1 (@RLChampionships) February 28, 2018
There is certainly no underestimation of Dewsbury's credentials from Higham.
"They're high up in the league and seem like a confident team," the veteran added.
"They've got some wily old characters in there who know this league inside and out.
"They have a nice mix of youth and experience, with some big boys in the middle and strike out wide.
"We'd like to think we are favourites going into this game but as it showed when we went to Barrow, if you're not on your game these teams are going to lift against us.
"It's a big month, but we'll take it game by game and if we can knock up some wins in the next few weeks, we can start to climb that league ladder."
After experiencing the highs of promotion in 2016, to the drastic lows of relegation a year later, Higham will be as motivated as ever to lead the Centurions back into the top four and pushing the top tier clubs close in the Qualifiers.
Even after their dreadful start to the campaign, you'd be a brave man to back against a Higham-inspired Centurions.