Bowman in, Holly quits

TEENAGE stand off Anthony Bowman has made a shock return to the Halifax squad ahead of tonight’s Co-operative Championship clash with Hunslet, on the same day another number six, the veteran Graham Holroyd, announced his retirement.

Bowman has not been sighted in Matt Calland’s top squad since pulling out of the pre season friendly with Hull KR in January on the day of the game.

The former Siddal junior then survived an official disciplinary hearing for an alleged, and still unspecified, breach of club rules before kicking off the season in the under 23s.

But a starring role in the second string’s thrashing of Leigh last week - coupled with captain Sean Penkywicz’s absence with a broken toe - has prompted Calland to include him in an initial 19 man selection ahead of tonight’s televised encounter at the Shay.

“We are obviously a pivot down, which puts extra pressure on the others, particularly Bob Beswick at hooker,” said Calland, who seems certain to stick with Ben Black and Danny Jones at the scrum base, with the bench looking Bowman’s best chance of a place in the 17.

“Anthony has had a hamstring problem but he played against Leigh last week and did really well.

“He has always had the potential, there is no doubt about that, it’s a matter of application and taking his chance when it comes.”

Holroyd’s exit from the professional game at the age of 35 is no real surprise.

The former Leeds, Salford and Doncaster player has already called time on his career once, in the aftermath of last September’s brilliant Grand Final win over Featherstone, and has not produced his best form since reversing his decision at Christmas.

“It’s not really worked out this year,” admitted Calland, who curtailed Holroyd’s final appearance, in the Challenge Cup defeat by Bradford, after just 14 minutes.

“Graham’s had some health problems which have meant he’s not recovering properly and that’s meant he has struggled to train.

“He has been a quality player for this club, obviously at the end of last season but particularly in 2008, when I thought he was probably the best player in the competition. There is no doubt that he has had a great career.”

Match preview - page 36