Harrison eases load on players ahead of York showdown

Halifax coach Karl Harrison expects his side to be refreshed for Sunday’s Championship fixture against York after an “easier” week in training.

The former Test prop, who has banked the Northern Rail Cup in his first season in charge, is already planning for the play offs, which kick off in early September.

“We’ve had what we call an ‘unloading week’, which is something we’ve had planned for a long time,” said Harrison, who saw his side stay on the heels of leaders Featherstone with a 30-26 win over Sheffield last weekend.

“We go a bit easier in the gym, have a bit of fun on the training field, and generally try and energise everyone for the last couple of months of the season.

“We have worked the players extremely hard throughout this season.

“I spoke to Jim Gannon yesterday, whose had a 15 year professional career, and he told me he’s never worked as hard as he has this year, at any of the clubs he’s been at.

“It’s about getting ready for the business end of the season now. The boys have had a taste of success and they liked it; they want more now.”

Victory over the struggling City Knights, who were only beaten at the Huntington Stadium in the spring by a last-play try, would keep Fax firmly in the running for a top-two finish ahead of two tricky final fixtures against top four sides Leigh and Batley.

“That’s the plan, but if it doesn’t happen it wouldn’t be a disaster,” said Harrison.

“It’s not the be all and end all, with the players we have and the coaches we have, I’d still be optimistic.

“York have had a tough season; their coach is leaving, they’ve probably not had the results they wanted, but they’ve still got some quality.

“We need to respect them, because if we don’t we will get exactly what we deserve.”

Harrison has fitness doubts over winger Wayne Reittie, who sat out the Sheffield game with a shoulder injury, while influential forward Adam Robinson, who hurt his thumb against the Eagles, and hooker Sean Penkywicz, who injured his groin, are both rated as doubtful.

“They’re all struggling, to be fair,” said Harrison. “James Haley and Ben Heaton are both available so they could come in, while I thought Anthony Bowman did a job in the back row.”