HALIFAX’S players will report for their first training session under boss Karl Harrison tonight, with a simple message waiting for them: “Be prepared for hard work.”
Harrison’s 2012 squad - which includes 15 new faces, including four from his former club Batley - were due at the Shay tonight for the start of a week of “physical and mental” evaluation under the watchful eye of the former Great Britain prop.
“We’ve got a programme in place, the first part running through to the game against Keighley on Boxing Day and then a second phase on to the start of the season,” said Harrison, who will run the rule over his players alongside assistant coach Lee Greenwood and conditioner Nigel Halmshaw.
“This week is about testing and preparation, then from next week we’ll be in three nights a week and once over the weekend.
“There’s no secret to what we’re going to be doing: It’s just a lot of hard work.
“I coach my teams like I played and trained myself; all my teams are extremely fit and if you are not fit, you won’t be playing.
“I run a pretty tight ship and while I understand players need to relax and do the things normal blokes do away from the game, when they are here they need to be ready to work.
“The first six weeks are going to be extremely physical; when we do contact work, we won’t hold back.
“We’ve basically got 12 weeks now to gel everyone together and build them into a team.
“That starts tonight.”
Harrison’s regime will be firmly focused on Calderdale, with Calderdale College’s new sports facilities due to be used by the club for the first time on Friday night.
“We’ve got our first field session up there at the end of this week,” said Harrison.
“We’ve revamped the gym at the Shay as well, there’s quite a bit of new equipment been brought in there and that will be our main base over the next few weeks.
“We’ll be staying local; we’ve got a couple of sessions on the hills at Shibden in the plan and we’ll be using Nigel’s gym up at Shelf for wrestling work.
“I think everyone’s looking forward to getting started.”
Leigh Centurions have signed Wales international Andy Bracek, who was among the host of players looking for a new club when Crusaders pulled out of Super League.
The Leigh-born former St Helens and Warrington back-row forward, 24, joined the Wrexham club from Barrow this year but was restricted to playing the last two matches of the season after recovering from a serious knee injury.
Leigh, who are being forced to rebuild after losing a host of players in the wake of their recent financial crisis, have also signed former Leeds, Huddersfield, Salford and Harlequins three-quarter Matt Gardner, 27, who was released by Widnes at the end of the 2011 season.
The Centurions have yet to appoint a new head coach to succeed Ian Millward, who has joined Castleford.
Huddersfield’s former New Zealand international Jamahl Lolesi has confirmed his retirement as a player but will remain with Giants on their coaching staff.
The 31-year-old centre joined Huddersfield four years ago after spells in the NRL with Canberra, Canterbury Bulldogs and Wests Tigers but did not play in 2011 after undergoing back surgery.
“It’s sad to hang the boots up but I have known for a while that the back would not permit me to play again,” he said.
“The opportunity to stay at a club I love working with great people was too good to refuse and I am looking forwards to a successful season.”