Upbeat Halifax coach Richard Marshall admits his players can’t wait to face the might of the Super League Giants at The Shay on Sunday.
Former Huddersfield prop Marshall has confirmed he will field his strongest-available squad as they look to build on their excellent 46-16 victory at Hull KR a fortnight ago.
That’s added to the confidence of the players of the Kingstone Press Championship club ahead of this weekend’s encounter with a second Super League side.
And having quit his role as England Academy coach to focus all his attention on Halifax – his national post has gone to Giants Head of Youth Performance Andy Kelly – Marshall is ready to see his side build on their performance against the Robins and provide the Giants with a full-blooded challenge.
“This promises to be a really good test for everyone,” said Marshall, who moved to the Shay after a successful spell as assistant coach to Tony Smith at Warrington Wolves.
“We’re planning to field our strongest squad and so are the Giants, so it should be a great occasion, particularly as there’s also the Infirmary Cup at stake!
“I know winning the Cup isn’t everything but, if we do, it’s definitely a further sign we’re heading in the right direction.
”Over the past two or three years, the Giants have been one of the strongest clubs in Super League, so this will be a massive challenge for our squad. It’ll be a bit of a benchmark for us.
“Our performance over at Hull KR the other week was very good and the win gave everyone a huge boost of confidence.
“But the side Rovers put out that day wasn’t their full Super League line-up, which is why no-one here at Halifax is getting that carried away.
“It’s going to be a different matter this weekend, because we know Huddersfield will be fielding all of their top stars.
“And because they had their game at Bradford called off last weekend, I think they’ll have placed added importance on this game against us and will be looking to give their main players a fair amount of gametime.
“That’ll do us a lot of good as well, because the stronger the test now, the better we’ll be prepared for the start of the new season.”
Halifax had hoped to be further boosted for the clash with the debut of former Super League back-row forward Andrew Dixon, whose career at The Shay has ended before it began.
Former St Helens man Dixon, who was in the final year of a three-season deal with Salford, had joined Fax on a month-long loan after Christmas with a view to a season-long stay.
But the player has this week signed a two-year deal with big-spending Championship rivals Leigh Centurions, who negotiated a permanent release from Salford – with Fax officials admitting there was little they could do about it.
“While we are extremely disappointed that Andrew will not be playing with us we, as a club, would never stand in the way of a player extending his career,” said director Ian Croad.
“A two year, full-time, contract gives the player financial stability.”<p/>