HALIFAX officials are eagerly-awaiting the release of the Co-operative Championship fixtures on Monday.

Coach Karl Harrison’s men will again be part of a 10-team competition, although the action will get under way with the early rounds of the Northern Rail Cup in February, when the men from The Shay begin the defence of their crown.

Halifax emerged victorious with a 21-12 final triumph over Featherstone Rovers at Blackpool in late July and will be desperate to keep hold of the trophy.

But Fax failed to build on that great day by the seaside and had to settle for a third-place finish in the league before crashing out 54-12 in the play-offs to eventual Grand Final winners Sheffield Eagles.

Those Northern Rail Cup exploits appear to have been at the heart of the late fade-out, and Harrison will be keen to avoid a repeat in 2013 – with the Fax chief hoping for a kinder fixture list this time around.

“We need to take a long hard look at the way we finished last season, and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said Harrison.

“In that play-off defeat to Sheffield, we looked a spent force and really tired.

“There was a real lack of energy and, to be truthful, we had been patching a team up for weeks behind the scenes. It was a case of running out of juice.”

Halifax will again be relishing a number of West Yorkshire Championship derbies against Featherstone, Batley, Dewsbury and Keighley, while they will also be doing battle with Doncaster, Barrow and Workington after their promotion from Championship I.