James Bell thanks Leigh for putting him on the road to being a world champion

JAMES Bell hopes to thank Leigh by showing them just how they put him on the road to being a world champion.

The Scotland international faced a quandary over where his career was going as his contract ended at Toulouse.

James Bell head back to Leigh as a thankful world championSWPIX.COM

But the newly-named Leopards brought him in and a series of fine performances earned him a move to St Helens – who he won the World Club Challenge with by defeating NRL champ Penrith 13-12 in Australia.

And he will be all smiles on his return tonight.

Back rower Bell said: “I left Leigh on really good terms and I’m looking forward to seeing a few old faces.

“They gave me the opportunity to come and play in Super League, so I’ll always be grateful to them for that.

“And I was allowed to play my style of rugby, especially under Kurt Haggerty – he really helped the ball-playing side of my game.

“I only got the move to Saints because of how I did at Leigh. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be where I am now.

“And winning the World Club Challenge has given us a lot of belief we can win five Super League titles in a row. It showed how hard we worked and how important the season is for us.

“We’re feeling really confident after going over to Australia and doing that, not just me but the while group.

“Yes, we lost against Leeds but it’s something we’ll learn a lot from. It was a good reminder for us, we’ve got to attack every single week as if we’re playing Penrith Panthers. That mindset is key.”

Boss Paul Wellens also cannot play down what the 28-year-old has brought, saying: “He’s been brilliant.

“I had a really honest conversation in pre-season about what I wanted from him and what he can bring to the team.

Bell admits his time at Leigh helped him get where he is todaySWPIX.COM

“He’s a player the lads love playing alongside because he brings an energy and an effort, He likes to get off his line and be physical, the players really value that.

“And a lot of people were too quick to talk Leigh down at the start of the year.”

Meanwhile, Lewis Murphy has been backed to return ‘bigger and better’ from his knee ligament woe – but Wakefield boss Mark Applegarth is not sure where he will be.

The winger suffered the tear during last Friday’s 8-0 loss to Huddersfield, ruling him out for the season.

And as talk of a move to NRL giants Sydney Roosters will not go away, his coach admits he is in the dark over whether his next match will be for Trinity, or even in England.

Lewis Murphy has been backed to come back ‘bigger and better’ from his knee injurySWPIX.COM

Applegarth said ahead of tonight’s West Yorkshire derby at Leeds: “I’ve no doubts he’ll be back bigger and better next year. Hopefully, it’s with us.

“But if I’m honest, I don’t know. He’s got quite a lot of interest and I massively understand why there are those NRL links – that’s not going to change any time soon either.

“Super League’s a picking ground for Australia at the moment. I’ve no doubts that Lewis will be on their radar.

“We’re just all there supporting him and getting him recovered as quickly as he can so he can continue his playing career.

“I’m gutted for him personally but we’ll make sure he doesn’t feel isolated and lonely.”

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