New faces set to appear for Halifax as pre-season gets underway at Bradford Bulls
Richard Marshall insists Halifax will 'put their best foot forward' in their Yorkshire Cup clash with Bradford Bulls this weekend.
Halifax begin 2019 with a pre-season clash at Odsal, hoping to secure some silverware before the Championship season kicks off in February.
Bradford returned to action last week with a 20-12 win over York City Knights on Boxing Day.
And while Marshall is keen for his side to go far in the Yorkshire Cup, he admits that the number one focus is to be ready for their Championship opener with Widnes on February 3.
“You can have a few dead-rubber games this time of year but for us there is a trophy to play for,” he said.
“We are playing Bradford, who are our nearest rivals, so it is a bit more exciting than your usual January game.
“However, it is important that we get to the start of the league season in good shape.
“We will be managing the squad over the next few games. We have got three games and it will be a changed team each week.
“We are taking this game seriously, it is a local derby and we want to put our best foot forward.
“We will have more of an idea of our fitness levels and what we need to work on after this game.”
Marshall is hoping to blood some of Halifax’s recent additions this weekend.
Ben Kavanagh, the returning Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e and Reece Chapman-Smith are three that could feature, while some reserve players may be given a chance to test themselves at first-team level.
The Halifax boss also revealed that Simon Grix, Ben Johnston and Scott Murrell will all miss out through injury.
“It is going to be a long season, we want to enjoy the start of these games and see who can play at this level,” he continued.
“We are looking at some of our reserve players who we think can step up this year.
“Scott Murrell won’t play, along with Simon Grix, so we won’t have the seniority out there but we will have that youthful enthusiasm.”
Marshall is keen to ensure that Halifax can consolidate their lofty position from last season, following a number of promising additions during the off-season.
He added: “We are in it for the long haul, we want to consolidate our position in the top four or five of the competition and be in the end-of-season play-offs.
“Our pre-season won’t finish until around March. We have a three-month pre-season block so that we are firing on all cylinders come the business end of the season.
“We won’t be at our strongest at the start, but our programme over the last four years has worked where we peak at the right time.”
Marshall also wants to use Halifax’s Yorkshire Cup games to allow his side to get used to the rule changes introduced for the 2019 Championship season.
The free play will be replaced by a regular advantage, with the referee the sole judge of what constitutes an advantage.
The number of interchanges has been reduced from 10 to eight.
Marshall added: “We have got to start looking at how we will use our interchanges this year.
“There is no free play either so we will be looking to get to grips with that as well.”