Fax boss gets Cup preview chance

Coach Karl Harrison will get an early glimpse of Challenge Cup opponents Oxford when they play a friendly fixture against Halifax’s under 20s on Sunday.

The Championship One newcomers, who were paired with Fax in Wednesday’s third round draw (see page 82) will face Fax’s second-string at Brighouse Sports Club with a noon kick off.

Oxford, coached by former Oldham boss Tony Benson, kick off their league programme at the end of the month against fellow rookies Gloucester.

“It’s worked out quite well for us, because they’re a side we know nothing about,” said Harrison, whose top team will host Hunslet in a Championship fixture at the Shay three hours later.

“It’s a game we arranged a while ago, but it’ll give us chance to review the DVD and see what we’re dealing with.

“As a draw, it could have been worse - we could have been travelling down there for starters - and we’ll treat it just as we would treat any other game.”

Harrison was finalising his side to face Hunslet at training tonight, but said the newly-signed former Salford Luke Adamson was unlikely to make his debut and will instead play against Oxford.

“We’ll see, but Luke’s not played rugby league for a while, so it won’t hurt him to have a game in the 20s,” said Harrison, who added that on-trial hooker Craig Cook and winger Wayne Reittie were also pencilled in for the Cup dress rehearsal.

Harrison made it clear he regards Barry Eaton’s Hawks - who have been bolstered in recent weeks by the presence of Leeds quartet Jimmy Keinhorst, Mitch Achurch, Liam Hood and Brad Singleton - as dangerous opponents.

“They’re a different proposition to recent seasons, that’s for sure,” said Harrison.

“They’re big, strong and direct and they blew Whitehaven off the park last weekend with some really good attack.

“Honestly, I don’t see them as one of the weaker teams this year, they’re a good, well-coached outfit and they need to be respected.”

Fax have enjoyed the novelty of preparing on grass for this week’s fixture, with two sessions at Heath RU club replacing practice at Calderdale College.

“It’s the first time we’ve been off the 3G all year,” said Harrison.

“I’m unsure how much it’s been detrimental to our form, but it certainly won’t do us any harm being able to train on grass again.”

More Fax - pages 84-85