James’ big night will be tough

VETERAN forward David Larder has urged Halifax’s supporters to turn out in force for tonight’s James Haley testimonial clash with Burleigh Bears (8.0).

And Larder, who will take joint charge of Haley’s Halifax select side alongside the club’s former full back - and current Huddersfield Giants player - Scott Grix, believes the touring Queensland Cup side will be anything but the usual benefit match fodder.

“I’ve played in a few of these games before and sometimes it is just a bit of fun, but I don’t think this one is going to be like that,” said Larder.

“Burleigh are a good side who have flown half way round the world and they are going to be ready to play.

“They’re going to want to win and I think it’s going to be a good, physical game.

“I just hope the people of Halifax turn out for James, because he deserves this massively.

“There are not many people who stay with one professional club for 10 years in any sport these days.

“James keeps his cards pretty close to his chest, but I know there have been times when he could have gone to Super League or gone elsewhere in the Championship for more money but he always stayed loyal.

“People shouldn’t underestimate what that means; I don’t think he’s ever been on massive money but it’s his hometown club and loves playing here.

“He’s a quality player, everyone knows that, but that shows what kind of person he is.

“I am sure the supporters will give him the recognition he deserves tonight.”

Larder, who retired at the end of the season after a decade and a half as a professional, is currently in the middle of preparing for his own benefit night - the one and only event of a three month testimonial granted for services to the game - which will take place at the Queens Hotel in Leeds on December 1.

The former England rugby union coach Clive Woodward, who guided the national 15-a-side team to the 2003 World Cup alongside Larder’s father, Phil, will be the guest speaker.

“It’s taken a lot of work to put it together, but it’s the only thing I’m doing,” said Larder, who said he had been anxious “not to detract” from Haley’s year-long programme of events.

“We’ve sold 25 tables and there’s five or six left, so it’s gone quite well.

“If anyone is interested in going along, we’ve got a Dave Larder Testimonial Facebook page which has got all the details on it.”

Tonight’s game is preceded by a legends curtain raiser (6.30), which is expected to feature former Fax coaches Matt Calland and Anthony Farrell, Burleigh’s assistant coach - and former Fax stand off - Carl Briggs and Australian half back Ben Black, who will join Batley in 2012, along with a host of other former players.

The turnstiles open at 6pm and admission is £10 for adults, £5 for concessions and £1 for children.