Fax’s Johnston gets Widnes chance as Moore waits on injury verdict

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Halifax half back Gareth Moore will sit out Sunday’s pre season fixture at Super League side Widnes (3.0) with a hand injury that could threaten his involvement in the club’s opening Championship fixtures.

Moore, who limped out of the Fax’s Boxing Day loss to Featherstone with a dead leg, is awaiting a scan on a suspected broken scaphoid, an injury that could rule him out of action for up to three months.

In Moore’s absence, coach Richard Marshall will give the nod to Ben Johnston, who endured a relatively patchy 2016 after effectively losing his place to Moore, alongside skipper Scott Murrell at the scrum base.

“Gareth went down on his hand in training and he won’t be playing this weekend,” said Marshall.

“He has had an X ray, which didn’t show any fracture, but it doesn’t look quite right at the moment so he’s going to have a scan which will show some more detail.

“We will take a look at Ben at half back and he’ll probably looking at this game thinking it’s a chance to try and nail down a spot.

“He was struggling at the end of last year with his hip, but that’s improved a lot in the last couple of weeks.

“He needs to show that he can organise, kick and run the ball like a first choice half back.”

Marshall will field a stronger line up than the one that lost to Rovers, with forwards Mitch Cahalane, Adam Tangata and Luke Ambler all making their seasonal debuts and re-signed winger Rob Worrincy all set to play.

Utility player Connor Robinson will continue at full back after a promising 40 minute cameo against Rovers and solid form on the training field.

“It will be a stronger team,” said Marshall, who will not risk star back rower Simon Grix because of the Vikings’ artificial playing surface.

“Connor’s looked good in training so we need to see more of him and it will be good to see Rob out there in a Halifax shirt again.

“He’s an imposing athlete and our job now as a team is to make sure he gets into the open spaces where he is at his most dangerous.”

Fax completed a second opposed training session against League 1 new boys Toronto Wolfpack at the weekend, with mixed results.

“To be honest, they were pretty good, we were okay,” said Marshall.

“I don’t think they’ll lose a game in that competition, they’re probably a top four Championship team already.”

Halifax (probable): Robinson; Saltonstall, Tyrer, Butler, Worrincy; Murrell, Johnston; Cahalane, Kaye, Tangata, Grady, Bent, Fairbank. Subs: Boyle, Ambler, Moore, Nelmes, Morris, Punchard, McGrath