HALIFAX forward Joe Chandler knows he has a fight on his hands if he wants to keep his place in boss Karl Harrison’s side over the next few weeks.
With in-form pair Craig Ashall and Dane Manning back from suspension for Sunday’s trip to York, long-term crocks Sam Barlow, Makali Aizue and Ross Divorty on the comeback trail and another injury victim, Iain Morrison, expected to return in two to three weeks after ankle surgery, competition for places in Harrison’s pack promises to be white hot.
And Chandler, the former Leeds and Oldham player who turned in his best performance of the year against Hunslet in last weekend’s 44-18 Co-operative Championship win over Hunslet, insists it is a battle he is looking forward to.
“Hopefully I’ve done enough to keep my place for this weekend and then I’ll take it from there,” said the prop or back rower.
“I knew when I signed last autumn it was going to be competitive and difficult and to be honest that’s why I stayed here.
“I wanted to be here and be in that team because I felt it was a team that was going to be up there, competing for top spot.
“I had a few offers elsewhere but there’s no point taking the easy ride just for a first team spot.
“I really look forward to the challenge of trying to keep my place.
“I know the other lads are going to be playing well, and I know they’re going to be training hard, which means I’ve got to do the same.
“For example, I’ve known Dane a long time, we played in the Dewsbury district side together and then with Leeds.
“He’s got a great work ethic and he’ll do above and beyond what is needed.
“It’s great for the team to have someone like that and it’s great for me to have competition like that.
“To get in front of him, I know how well I’m going to have to play.
“The gauntlet’s been thrown down now and it’s up to me to pick it up.”
If Chandler plays against the City Knights this weekend, he will be one of the few survivors from the Fax side that slipped to a miserable televised loss at the Huntington Stadium last August.
“I started at prop over there, so I remember it quite well unfortunately,” he said. “Due to the size of the pitch over there, they use it to their advantage really well.
“We played dumb there last year and it wasn’t our best day by a long way.
“All we need to do on Sunday is stick to the plan that Karl lays down for us.
“He’s a top quality coach and whatever he comes up with will be right for that game.”