Harrison: Keighley ‘disrespected’ Fax with Handforth announcement

Paul Handforth
Paul Handforth

Halifax coach Karl Harrison has said it was “rude and disrespectful” of Keighley to confirm the capture of Fax’s vice captain Paul Handforth ahead of Thursday night’s derby at Cougar Park (7.30).

Keighley issued a Press release late last week saying they had signed Handforth, who was not offered a new contract at the Shay, for 2014.

And speaking after his side’s 24-12 home loss to Featherstone on Sunday, coach Paul March went even further, claiming that Fax have signed the Rovers half back and former Siddal junior Liam Finn.

“We had to announce it because it was going to be in the papers anyway,” said March.

“There’s a bit of movement with half backs for next year; Handforth to us, Finn to Halifax.”

But Harrison, who has been heavily linked with a number of players, notably the Batley pair Paul Mennell and Gareth Potts and young Wakefield centre Danny Cowling, insisted that no official confirmation should have been given.

“I knew Tiger (Handforth) had signed for them, but I’m a little bit disappointed they’ve chosen to announce it,” said Harrison, who batted away March’s claims over Finn.

“They certainly didn’t ask us, but that’s rugby league for you.

“We’ve made certain signings for next season and announced nothing; I think it’s rude and disrespectful to the clubs players are coming from if you do that while teams are still playing.

“But if that’s the way certain coaches and clubs want to conduct their business, so be it.

“As far as Finn is concerned, he’s in his testimonial year at Featherstone and he’s contracted to them for next season; end of story.”

Keighley’s announcement seems unlikely to impact on Harrison’s team selection though, with Handforth again likely to start alongside Scott Murrell at half back.

“I know that Tiger is professional enough to play well anyway,” said Harrison.

“In any case, we are down to the half backs we have got, we don’t have a great deal of changeability there because of Anthony Thackeray’s injury.

“It is what it is for us.”