Leigh Centurions can confirm that head coach John Duffy will leave the club with immediate effect by mutual agreement.
Assistant coach Kurt Haggerty will take over the head coaching role in the short term, supported by the rest of the coaching staff while applications for the post on a permanent basis are considered.
Leigh Centurions owner Derek Beaumont said: “I would like to thank John for his dedication, commitment and outstanding work ethic he has shown during his time with the club. It has been a really difficult time as he massively cares about the club, the fans, the town of Leigh and me and my wife personally.
“He took on the role when the club was at a low point following the circumstances of 2018. He vowed to get me back interested and he did. He massively over-achieved with a small budget, building a group that worked really hard for him, making the play-offs. We built on that the following year, and he had an unbeaten start to the league campaign, winning five from five and narrowly lost in the last game of that season, away to Hull KR in the last second in the Challenge Cup. He then endured the remainder of the season unable to operate as a coach.
“With many of those players leaving and replaced with a team to go strong in the Championship and gain promotion, he saw the opportune moment of promotion bestowed upon the club from its boardroom’s application, something he acknowledged the significant effort that had been made to make that happen.
“John jumped at it with two hands, despite knowing there was no time to recruit differently and that all other teams had already finished their recruitment. I have seen in detail the meticulous effort that he has made, and it saddens me to have to make these comments.
“In the end John wants the same as me, the best for the club, not himself and therefore it wasn’t a difficult conversation that we had. Something needed to change, and we both recognised that.
“I hope the fans can respect the difficult task John faced and made a fist of for them and, also, remember his fine contribution as a player. He is Leigh through and through and can certainly hold his head high in my box anytime he feels like it. As a sport we talk of mental health but perhaps we need to look at some of the things we do as a sport and the impact that has on people’s mental health.”
John Duffy was appointed Leigh Centurions head coach in November 2018 after previous coaching appointments at Swinton Lions and Featherstone Rovers and a long spell as Scotland co-coach alongside Chris Chester.
He steered the Centurions into the Betfred Championship play-offs in 2019, then oversaw the switch to a full-time playing operation before the 2020 season was terminated due to the pandemic, before the club’s elevation to the Betfred Super League in December 2020 after a successful bid process.
Duffy played 202 games for Leigh in three separate spells between 2001 and 2012 in a notable playing career that saw him also play for Warrington, Salford, Chorley, Whitehaven and Widnes as well as representing Scotland. He played a key role as a member of the Leigh side that won promotion to Super League in 2004 and he also starred in Leigh’s National League Cup Final winning teams of 2004 and 2011.
John Duffy said: “I am gutted that my time is up. I had a good chat with Derek and we agreed that something needed to change. We have not got the results we needed and now it is time for someone else to step in and hopefully get the first win and then some more.
“It’s a tough one for me as I love the Club and the fans but I realise there have to be changes and that’s the way it goes. I started my coaching job at Leigh with nothing and we got to Super League. I always knew it was going to be a tough challenge and I’d like to wish the players all the best for the season.
“The fans have been great for me. I know they weren’t allowed to be inside the grounds for a while but when they can they follow us around everywhere. I’d like to thank Derek Beaumont and Mike Latham in particular for all the help and support they have given me and everyone who has helped me over the last few years.
“There are not many who can say that they coached the club they loved and I am grateful I was given the opportunity.”