BATLEY assistant coach Lee Greenwood believes Halifax remain a genuine Co-operative Championship title threat ahead of Sunday’s showdown between the sides at the Shay.
Matt Calland’s 2010 Grand Final winners are still six points outside the play off places after losing eight of their first nine league fixtures, while the Bulldogs are soaring in second spot after a four game winning streak, just a point behind leaders Leigh.
But Greenwood, the right hand man to Fax Hall of Fame legend Karl Harrison at Mount Pleasant, reckons his hometown club could still retain their title if they can force their way into the top six.
“They’ve got to make the six, but if they can do that, definitely,” insisted the former Fax wingman, who has guided Siddal to three consecutive National Conference Grand Finals.
“It is a big ask to win it from further down the table, but when you look at it, even though you are away from home every week, it is still only three straight wins.
“Halifax have been to Leigh and won, they have been to Featherstone and won, so they have nothing to worry about really do they?”
Greenwood admitted to being impressed with Fax’s resurgence since the arrival of football troubleshooter Brian Noble six weeks ago, identifying a simple but crucial shift in their performances.
“They just look like they are working a lot harder for each other,” said Greenwood.
“The threats in attack are pretty much the same: Worrincy, White, Penkywicz scooting from the ruck and those plays that Beswick puts on.
“But they are much more desperate in defence and much harder to score against than they were.
“They certainly came through strongly at Featherstone last week and it’s going to be a hard game tomorrow for both sides.
“We have been doing okay, but we are not going to go around shouting about it because we know how quickly things can change.
“We are improving steadily; we just need to kick on now and finish as high as we can.”
Batley could welcome back winger Wayne Reittie, who has had a back problem, but their Halifax-based Illingworth centre Daley Williams is definitely sidelined with a shoulder injury.
Former Great Britain international Lee Gilmour has signed a two-year contract extension with Huddersfield which will take him past his 35th birthday.
The vastly experienced centre or second rower has missed only three matches since joining the Giants on an initial two-year deal from St Helens at the start of the 2010 season and his current form has delighted coach Nathan Brown.
“Gilly’s very professional and he’s been a winning player wherever he’s played,” said Brown. “Since he’s been at the Giants, his form has been very good and consistent and he looks after his body really well.
“You can never have too many winners in the team and there won’t be too many more back rowers who make the line breaks Gilly does.”
Gilmour made his Super League debut with Wigan in 1997 and also played for Bradford before joining St Helens in 2004, where he was a member of the club’s double-winning team of 2006.
He won 15 caps for Great Britain and represented Scotland in the 2000 World Cup.
Former Australian Test centre Matt Gidley, who retired as a player after the 2010 Super League Grand Final after four seasons with St Helens, has been appointed as chief executive of football operations at his former Newcastle Knights club.