HALIFAX boss Karl Harrison will leave at least four key players out of his side for tomorrow’s third round Challenge Cup date with Humberside amateurs Myton (3.0).
Full back Ryan Fieldhouse, captain and hooker Sean Penkywicz, in-form forward Adam Robinson and half back Paul Handforth are all certain to sit in the stands at the Shay as Harrison turns one eye to Thursday night’s televised Co-operative Championship trip to Sheffield.
Harrison is likely to switch Paul White to full back and Craig Ashall to hooker, with young playmakers Callum Casey and Anthony Bowman – whose late break set up Penkywicz’s winner at York last weekend – getting starts at loose forward and stand off respectively.
But the former Great Britain forward was keen to emphasise the probable changes do not constitute a lack of respect for the Humberside amateurs, but instead reflect the potential importance of the clash with the Eagles, when both sides will put their 100 per cent records after two rounds on the line.
“If we were playing someone other than Sheffield on Thursday, we would probably have picked a different team,” said Harrison, who was due to finalise his selection at training last night.
“Even if we were playing Sheffield next Sunday, I might have picked a different team.
“But it’s a short week and Sheffield is an important game; it’s an 18-game league season and I don’t think the team that finishes top will lose more than three all year.
“We want to make a statement in that game, hopefully the right kind of statement, and those four players will be important for us.
“It’s not about taking Myton lightly because I don’t like people who don’t show respect to other teams, the sport is too hard for that.
“They’re the best amateurs in Hull at the moment, so they’ll be tough opposition.
“I suppose people will say it’s a bit of an experimental team, but it’s a team that’s capable of turning in a quality performance.
“We work too hard behind the scenes to mess things up with a bad selection decision because, let’s be honest, this isn’t a game you’d like to lose.”
As well as Casey and Bowman, there could also be a place for young forward Mark Goodman, who could join comeback pair Sam Barlow and Makali Aizue on the bench, while Ross Divorty will make his senior debut for the club in the back row.
“Casey and Bowman have both done really well and Callum was bitterly disappointed to be 18th man at York,” said Harrison, who will recall centre Steve Tyrer, leaving Lee Paterson, Rob Worrincy and Wayne Rettie chasing two wing spots.
“It’s the same with Goodman, he’s trained with us all winter, he did well at Salford in pre-season and he deserves a shot.
“You’ve got to show faith in the young players at some point, because that’s what gives them the belief and confidence they need to be successful.
“Divorty’s ready to go now. He’s trained really well and I’m looking forward to seeing him play.”
Match preview - page 29