Karl: Fax job starts now

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INCOMING Halifax coach Karl Harrison has confirmed he will open one-on-one talks with the club’s out-of-contract stars as soon as this week.

Harrison, who captained Fax for most of the 1990s, was officially unveiled as the successor to Matt Calland on Saturday, ending weeks of speculation that he would leave Batley in order to rejoin his former club.

The 47-year-old has a blank canvas on which to build his 2012 squad, with all of Fax’s players currently without deals for next season.

And while Courier Sport understands that some players have already been made offers via the club’s board of directors, Harrison is now set to take a personal interest.

“I’m an honest kind of person - if something isn’t right, it’s wrong - and it would certainly have been wrong of me to talk to the Halifax players while Batley were still in the competition,” said Harrison, who saw his Bulldogs outfit dumped out of the play offs 32-22 by the reigning Co-operative Championship champions last Thursday.

“I certainly have made some plans and I have players I have indentified that I want to retain.

“I haven’t contacted any of them as yet, but that will change now and the process of putting something together for next year and beyond will start.”

But Harrison did confirm that he has no intention of involving himself in the club’s on-field operation for the rest of this year, leaving caretaker coach Damian Ball and football consultant Brian Noble to drive Fax’s title push.

“I think Thursday night showed that Damian and his players are doing a great job in what have been pretty difficult circumstances for them over the last few months,” said Harrison.

“They have demonstrated they still have some big games left in them and the last thing they need is me sticking my big nose in.

“It just wouldn’t be fair.”

Ball’s next assignment is another sudden-death semi final at Sheffield, although the time and place of that contest has still not been decided.

The Rugby Football League have asked clubs to complete play off fixtures by Saturday if possible, but Bramall Lane is unavailable on both Friday and Saturday because Sheffield United have a home fixture.

Fax have suggested staging the game on Thursday night, with Eagles boss Mark Aston pushing for a Sunday afternoon slot.

Given the clubs’ recent history of disagreements, it seems likely the RFL will be asked to make a final decision today.

A possible compromise is a switch to the Eagles’ old home at the Don Valley Stadium, which could host the game on Friday night.

Gareth Thomas will be fit to play for Wales in the Four Nations Series, according to coach Iestyn Harris.

The 37-year-old former British Lion has been out since July with a broken arm and missed his initial target of making his comeback in Crusaders’ final game of Super League at Wigan last Friday night.

However, Harris says the threequarter is close to full fitness and will join the national squad in camp next month to prepare for Wales’ warm-up game against Ireland in Neath on Saturday, October 22, and their opening Four Nations clash with England in Leigh a week later.

“He’s maybe a week away from full fitness,” said Harris, who opted not to rush Thomas back for Crusaders’ last match.

“It was pointless risking him for the last game of the year and him breaking down again.

“In the next month he’ll be fully fit and he’ll be ready for the training camp with Wales.”