Fax boss Karl set to test out new RFL rules

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HALIFAX boss Karl Harrison is planning to use Sunday’s pre-season fixture at Leigh as a dress rehearsal for the Rugby Football League’s new rules on the number of substitutions teams are permitted to make.

From 2012, teams will only be allowed to make 10 interchanges, rather than the previous 12.

And the former Great Britain front rower is keen to see how the regulations work in practice, even if it means putting his side at a numerical disadvantage against the team that beat Fax in last season’s Northern Rail Cup decider at Blackpool.

“I always planned to use 17 players with the 10 interchanges in this game and that’s still the situation at the moment,” said Harrison, who will lock horns with his former Fax teammate and Leigh’s acting coach Paul Rowley at the LSV.

“I spoke to Paul at Salford at the weekend and he’s talking about maybe using 20 players, with some young kids on the bench.

“But I think it’s important we have a look at the interchange situation before the season starts and we’re also getting really light on players, because of the number of injuries we have.

“That’s a consideration as well.”

One of Harrison’s new recruits, the former Leigh centre Mick Nanyn, missed the 46-16 reverse at Salford last weekend - the club the Centurions had embarrassed the previous weekend - with a knee injury.

Veteran prop Jim Gannon was also out, along with Wales international Ross Divorty and long-term absentees James Haley, Lee Paterson, Makali Aizue and Sam Barlow.

“Jim’s got a chance of playing at Leigh, but I’m not so sure about Nanyn,” said Harrison.

“We’ll assess him as the week goes on.”

Lee Mitchell insists he has no regrets over choosing to spend a freezing January in Yorkshire over training on the beach in Sydney.

The 23-year-old second rower could have been Down Under with Warrington but he instead opted to move on loan to Castleford for the coming season.

And Mitchell is enjoying pre-season so much that the prospect of his Wolves team-mates experiencing an Australian summer for their training camp has rarely crossed his mind.

“I’ve not thought much about it to be honest,” Mitchell said.

“I’m quite happy here, even if it is freezing cold. At the minute, I wouldn’t want to be on the other side of the world, honestly.

“The stuff we’ve been doing has been really good and it’s benefiting me more as a player and as a person. I’m feeling really good and looking forward to the season.”

Mitchell is used to being loaned out by his home-town club. He made just five substitute appearances for the Wolves in 2011 but played 12 times for Harlequins and also had a spell in the Championship with Leigh under new Castleford coach Ian Millward.

“Because I’m a Warrington boy, I’ve always wanted to play for Warrington but they’ve got the luxury of a big and experienced squad to choose from,” he said.

“For me to progress I’ve needed to get the experience of going out to other clubs. I wouldn’t change what I’ve done so far. I feel I’m progressing all the time and going in the right direction.”

Mitchell had other options when Wolves coach Tony Smith made it clear he would not be a part of his initial plans for 2012 but he opted to retain the links he forged at Leigh with Millward and former team-mate Stuart Donlan, now assistant coach at the Probiz Coliseum, and admits the move could become permanent.

“This is the pinnacle of it at the minute,” he said. “I’m going to use this year to see how good a player I can be.

“I’ve got the security of being at one club for the year. I’ve done a full pre-season with the lads and really enjoyed it. The club are definitely going in the right direction.

“At the end of the year there’s an option for me to sign for Cas or Warrington. It’s a decision for the clubs. I will probably get a little bit of a say but not as much as the clubs.”