NEIL Jukes believes Leigh Centurions can still enjoy a positive season once rugby league receives a green light to emerge from lockdown, writes Trevor Baxter.

Leigh’s operations manager has also praised the leadership of the sport’s governing body and club owner, Derek Beaumont, during the coronavirus crisis.

Jukes, who guided the club into Super League four years ago, took up his new role two games into the new campaign.

Despite the sport’s current hiatus, the 43-year-old has busied himself to ensure the Championship club will emerge best placed across all areas for the rest of the year and beyond.

“It is all about doing as much planning as we can,” said Jukes, out of the game for two years after losing his coaching post in February 2018.

“There have been lots of conference calls with the RFL trying to put stuff in place for when we get the green light.

“It is challenging for clubs, some more than others,” agrees Jukes. “However, we have all got to try and remain optimistic and make sure when the game does come back we can return it to where it needs to be.

“The fans have been outstanding; the commercial partners have been outstanding. They appreciate the position we are in.

“Everyone is optimistic that for every game we have lost, we are hopeful and positive we will get those fixtures at a later date.

“Everyone is keen to finish the show, especially after making such a good start on the field.”

Leigh won all four league fixtures before the season was halted and sit joint second behind leaders Toulouse who have played a match more.

“I have been impressed by what John has done,” added Jukes of head boss, John Duffy. “He has worked hard and the players have bought into what he is doing.

“It is a shame the season had to stop when it did. But there are much tougher things everyone has to deal with. Hopefully, though we get chance to kick on from where we left off.”

The sport has had little to cheer since lockdown but confirmation of a £16 million rescue package from the government was welcome tidings. It also earned RFL chief executive, Ralph Rimmer, plenty of kudos.

“In every time of adversity, you do want strong leadership and Ralph and his team have done that,” confirmed Jukes.

“There has been a lot of clarity and consistency with their communications. They have always kept people in the loop and not been afraid to ask for advice.

“From a club point of view, Derek has been outstanding. He has been upfront with where we are at, supported every member of staff, gone over and above what he has probably needed to do at times.

“He has shown good leadership here and with his other business. People come to the fore in these trying times; the RFL has done that and certainly Derek has done that.”