Festive friendly is first up for Fax

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Halifax will open their on-field preparations for the 2017 season with Boxing Day friendly against Championship arch rivals Featherstone Rovers at the Shay.

And Richard Marshall’s side will follow that up with a second home game, against Super League outfit Salford Red Devils, on Sunday, January 22.

Fax are also working on securing a third fixture, possibly a repeat of last season’s trip to another top flight team, Widnes, as Marshall tries to prompt a quicker start to the league season, which also starts against Rovers at the Shay, on the first weekend in February.

“In both my years here, we’ve not really started strongly and we need to change that next year,” said Marshall, whose side face another of their potential top four rivals, Batley, in round two.

“Ideally, I think we’ll play a third game as well; I want us to to get to the start of the league with some confidence and some established combinations.

“Both Featherstone and Salford will offer us competitive and challenging games, which is exactly what we need.”

Marshall’s side return to pre season training this week, kicking off a six week block in the run up to Christmas.

“It’s probably a week earlier than planned, but we’ll get six weeks of work in before Christmas, play the Featherstone game and then have a little bit of time off,” said Marshall, whose approach will also be tempered by the loss of his two assistant coaches, Marlon Billy and Chris Rose, who were casualties of the club’s close-season budget cuts.

“There are things that will change about our approach from last year, but we’ll discuss those with the players first.

“The bottom line is that we’ve seen both sides of the coin over the last two seasons, success and failure, and as long as we learn some lessons from what happened this year it won’t have been a wasted experience.

“I think physically we were where we needed to be at the right time; we won seven games straight when we needed to, so that tells us something.”