Halifax have signed the Leigh winger Alex Brown and named the long-serving Swinton player and coach Marlon Billy as boss Richard Marshall’s right hand man.
While Brown’s recruitment has been long-rumoured, Billy’s appointment as Marshall’s assistant is more of a surprise.
Huddersfield-based Billy has been with the Lions for the bulk of his professional career after rising to prominence at Rochdale; first as a player, then conditioner and latterly assistant to head coach Ian Watson, who has now joined the staff at Super League side Salford.
“Marlon has been pretty much a one-club man, which says a lot about his honesty and his strength of character,” said Marshall, who worked with Billy when he closed out his own playing career with the Lions.
“I spoke to a few people, but Marlon showed a lot of desire to come here and he’s excited about progressing his own career as a coach.
“I played with him at Swinton, coached him at Swinton, and he’s someone who will do a good job for us.
“He was a back as a player, which I felt was important, he’s reasonably local and he’s got a good knowledge of the Championship, the teams in it, the players in it.
“I used to bump into him at Warrington when Swinton were training there and I’ve had a few conversations with him about coaching.
“His philosophy fits with mine and he’s not afraid to ruffle a few feathers either, which is good.”
Brown, the former Batley and Hull KR player, kicked off last season at the LSV with the eventual champions, but spent most of the season on loan at the Bulldogs.
That brought him back to the attention of former Fax boss Karl Harrison - Brown’s old coach at Mount Pleasant - who completed a deal to bring him to the Shay shortly before leaving the club with one game of the regular season remaining.
“Alex played plenty of Super League at Hull KR in 2013, so he’s had some success at the top level,” said Marshall.
“I’m not sure why things didn’t work out for him at Leigh, but he’s at the stage now where needs to settle down and enjoy his rugby again.
“He is a big, strong player who will add some size and speed to the backline.
“We’ve got three specialist wingers in Alex, Tommy Saxton and Gareth Potts and they all bring something slightly different to the team.
“I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen of Tommy; he gets his nose through the line and gets the team moving forward.
“I’ll be looking for Alex to do something similar and I’m sure it’s going to be a great competition between those three for the wing spots.”