HALIFAX coach Matt Calland will go into tonight’s Grand Final rematch with Featherstone (7.30) with a “very similar” side to the one that faced Whitehaven a little over a week ago.
Calland dropped seven players for the trip to Cumbria in the wake of his side’s Co-operative Championship loss in Toulouse and then watched as his side stormed into the last eight of the Northern Rail Cup with a 60-6 win.
And while three of the absentees - full back Miles Greenwood, centre James Haley and back rower Sam Barlow - make it back into a 20-man squad for tonight’s televised showdown, it seems far from certain they will make the final cut.
“There might be some changes, but not many,” said Calland.
“I have picked a team I think can beat Featherstone, but it will be very similar to the one that played at Whitehaven.”
Of the three, Barlow - who was outstanding in the group stages of the NRC before having an off night in France - looks the most likely to return after edging out fellow back rower Ryan Clayton.
Haley’s way back into the backline looks blocked for now, while Calland faces a choice at number one between Greenwood’s experience and the raw talent of BARLA trialist Ryan Fieldhouse.
“It would be a step up for Ryan, but he has coped with every challenge he has faced so far,” said Calland.
“If anything, he has looked something special.
“The players that don’t play tonight will all get a chance over the next few weeks because we have a very busy April coming up.”
Calland has braced his side for an onslaught from Rovers, who were beaten 23-22 by Ben Black’s golden point drop goal in last season’s title decider.
“To lose that game like they did must have been gut wrenching for them,” said Calland.
“They will be itching for another crack at us.
“It’s something we have spoken about and we will be ready for them.
“It’s a big game and everyone is looking forward to it.”
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