New Barrow boss Dave Clark could hardly have asked for a tougher test in his first game back in charge at Craven Park than a visit from play-off rivals Halifax.
Fax are looking for the win that would close the gap on the sixth-placed Raiders to a single point with a game in hand.
But the Aussie, who has been working as a development officer at Super League club Wigan, is looking forward to the challenge as he begins his fourth spell at the helm of the Cumbrian club.
“It’s good to be back,” said Clark, whose spells in charge include a couple as caretaker.
“It is great to get an opportunity to come back, especially with the club in the position they are in.”
Clark returns for the business end of the season and will be hoping to repeat his feat of guiding the team to the 2009 Grand Final when they defeated Fax at Warrington.
“There are six fixtures to go, so Saturday’s game is an important one,” he said.
“We don’t want to be playing a waiting game later in the year hoping the top sides all beat each other.”
Clark has good and bad memories of facing Fax in his previous spell in charge.
“We played them in the Northern Rail Cup first round at Halifax and they gave us a good touch up,” said Clark.
“That was my first game in charge of a Championship side and I learned a lot about the level we were playing at.
“We improved as the season went on and took the trophy in the Grand Final which is a good memory.”
Clark will have to hit the ground running after being appointed the club’s third coach of the season following on from Garry Schofield and Nigel Wright.
“It will be a challenge right from the start,” he said. “But we will just get on with it.
“We have a lot of experienced players at the club and they will adapt very quickly to a new man in charge.”
Clark’s first session in charge on Wednesday night was a light one and his only doubt for tomorrow’s game is former Fax man Anthony Blackwood, who suffered a dead leg in Barrow’s game at Sheffield last week.
Threequarter Jordan Thompson has become the third Castleford player in four days to renew his contract when he signed a new deal taking him to the end of the 2013 season.
The 19-year-old academy international, who scored three tries in England’s winter series win over the Australian Schoolboys, joins Kirk Dixon and club captain Danny Orr in committing their futures to the club.
Gil Dudson, who recently played for Halifax on a dual registration, is one of seven players suspended by Super League’s bottom club Crusaders for alleged breaches of club discipline.
Jason Chan, Richard Moore, Peter Lupton, Jordan Tansey, Jarrod Sammut and Lloyd White have also been told they will not be selected for tomorrow’s match against Hull KR.
Crusaders chief executive Rod Findlay said: “We will not be going into the details of what happened but the club’s code of discipline was broken.”
Leigh regained top spot in the Co-operative Championship with a 40-16 victory over third-placed Batley at Mount Pleasant last night.
The kick-off was delayed by 45 minutes after the Centurions were held up on the motorway but they made up for lost time by racing into an 18-6 lead thanks to converted tries from Stuart Donlan, Martyn Ridyard and Jamie Ellis.
Mark Toohey and Alex Brown pulled tries back for the Bulldogs before half-time but Leigh added second-half tries through Steve Maden, Dean McGilvray, Stephen Nash and Tom Armstrong, with Mick Nanyn taking his goal tally to six from seven attempts.