Halifax hooker Ben Kaye says the “cut throat” competition for the club’s number nine shirt has upped the ante during pre season training.
Kaye, the former Featherstone player who is entering his second season with the club, is one of four specialists available to new boss Richard Marshall, whose reign officially kicks off with a pre-season showdown at Super League outfit Hull KR on January 11.
Kaye, who began his career with Leeds before making his name in the Championship with Rovers, and half-back-turned-hooker Paul Mennell, who joined the club from Batley last winter, dominated the role under former coach Karl Harrison.
But ex-Warrington junior Keith Holden put the pair under increasing pressure as the year went on, while Marshall’s one and only excursion into the transfer market so far this winter saw him sign another young Wolves hooker, Oldham-based Ryan Maneely.
“There is big time competition,” admitted Kaye, who turned 26 this week.
“Nothing has been said and nothing needs to be said; we all know what the score is.
“There are four hookers and probably two places each week, so it’s cut throat.
“You can see it in training how competitive it is between us.
“We’re all trying to stand out, which is bringing the best out of all of us and will be good for the team.
“Me and Paul are probably a more traditional style of hooker; our game is about graft and workrate.
“Keith’s an outstanding young player who offers something different to us with the ball and he’ll continue to get better.
“I’ve been impressed with Ryan too. He’s very sharp and he’s probably the quickest out of us all from dummy half; he’s the one you know is going to run from there.
“He’s obviously learnt a lot at Warrington and I’ve picked up a few things from working with him already.”
Kaye reflected the general enthusiasm for Marshall’s new regime among the club’s players, rating the England Academy boss’s initial impact as “brilliant” and “absolutely outstanding”.
“We’re still a part time team, but he’s created such a professional environment,” said Kaye.
“He really pays attention to attitude, thought process and the little things in the game that a lot of people don’t see.
“He’s instilling a lot of things into our game, in attack and defence, that will make us a different sort of team next year.”