CONFIDENT Halifax coach Karl Harrison insists his side is in the best possible shape to conquer champions Sheffield Eagles in tonight’s Championship opener at The Shay (7.30).
Harrison’s men host last year’s Grand Final winners in front of the Premier Sports cameras, seven days after drawing 18-18 with Batley Bulldogs in their last pre-season work-out and the former England coach feels that physical clash at Mount Pleasant will stand his men in good stead for a tough Eagles encounter.
“It’s a big challenge. It’s the first game of the season and both teams will be ready and up for it,” said Harrison.
“We’ve been weather-affected and we’re maybe a bit behind where we’d like to be, but we’re looking forward to getting going now. We’ve trained ever so well this week and taking a lot of positives from the game at Batley.
“And that’s going to help us against another quality side in Sheffield. They’ve had a stable squad for the last few years, built on a big forward pack and few Islanders who can make things happen.
“They’re a very dangerous team, both in the middle and on the fringe, and we’ll be tested defensively right across our line.”
Long-term injury absentees Mick Nanyn and Iain Morrison are Harrison’s only unavailable players, with new big signing Scott Murrell ready to lead his side for the first time in a Championship fixture following his arrival from Super League Hull KR.
Eagles travel without Joe Hirst (broken hand), but could include Quentin Laulu-Togagae, who has made a quick recovery from knee surgery last month.
Sheffield coach Mark Aston said: “We planted the flag last year and now it’s time to back it up.”
Watch out for tonight’s match report in tomorrow’s Examiner Sport.