Harrison: We’re ready for the wrestle

Karl Harrison
Karl Harrison

Coach Karl Harrison has admitted Halifax have prepared to cope with “very slow play the balls” in Sunday’s Northern Rail Cup decider against Featherstone.

Harrison was infuriated by what he labelled as Rovers’ “wrestling” tactics as the league leaders won a stifling encounter 24-4 at the Shay last month.

And the former Great Britain prop is expecting more of the same in the Bloomfield Road showpiece, which will be refereed by Dewsbury official Jamie Leahy.

“We have prepared our game plan around a slow play the ball,” said Harrison.

“Featherstone push the interpretations of the rules to their limits, they get away with it for whatever reason and they control the ruck speed extremely well as a result.

“Personally, I don’t think wrestling is what people want to watch and I know John Kear was quite critical of what happened at the play the ball when they played Batley last weekend.

“We’re not expecting a fast game; Jamie Leahy’s a good referee and he deserves his chance in a big game but we had him over Easter when we played Keighley and that was pretty slow.

“We’ve worked on what we need to do over the last couple of weeks and while we were a bit scratchy against Swinton I thought there were some good signs against Hunslet on Sunday.”

Victory on Sunday would be Harrison’s second in the competition in three years after his Batley side - which included current Fax players Paul Handforth and Sean Hesketh - edged out Widnes in the 2010 decider.

“It’s a good competition for the Championship clubs and it’s status is reflected in how seriously clubs have approached it over the last few years,” said Harrison.

“It’s a cup final and we’re going there to win, not to come second.

“We’ve got a lot of players with big game experience and so have Featherstone.

“It’s going to be a tough contest, that’s for sure.”

Harrison is not expected to name a side until shortly before kick off, although Courier Sport understands prop Luke Ambler - who has missed the last two games with a knee injury - is fit to play.