HALIFAX coach Matt Calland will make another raft of changes to his side when they make their third competitive start of the year at Whitehaven on Sunday (3.0).
Calland has named a 19-man selection that closely resembles the squad picked for the opening Northern Rail Cup clash at Swinton a fortnight ago.
There are some enforced changes – Lee Paterson misses out with ankle ligament damage and starting hooker Bob Beswick will not be risked after breaking his nose in last weekend’s 50-10 rout of Oldham – but Calland has also reshuffled heavily, particularly in the forwards.
Out go veteran props Frank Watene and Makali Aizue and in-form back rower Stephen Bannister, clearing the way for recalls for Josh Barlow, Jacob Fairbank, Joe Chandler, Ryan Clayton and Paul Smith.
Prop Neil Cherryholme, who has been nursing a groin injury, will also play along with player-coach Dave Larder, his first appearance since last season’s Grand Final win.
There could be a place for trialist hooker Danny Moran, who last featured in the pre-season clash with Hull KR.
“We’re definitely still at the stage where we’re still looking at which combinations work best for us,” said Calland, who confirmed the final group game against holders Batley at the Shay in nine days time was likely to herald the first appearance of what he considered his strongest side.
“Some players still haven’t had much game time and they need to be given a chance to show us what they can do.
“At the same time, this is a game we need to win and we have picked a squad to do that.”
Calland has resisted the temptation to give a fourth debut to veteran stand off Graham Holroyd, although he reported the 35 year old – once famously described by the then Whitehaven coach Paul Crarey as “playing in a dinner suit” – is “looking sharp and is almost up to game speed”.
Fax will start as favourites in Cumbria, although Haven – who are still recovering from a financially disastrous 2010 under the tutelage of long-serving centre-turned-coach David Seeds – claimed an eye-catching 16-16 draw with Sheffield in South Yorkshire last weekend.
“You don’t like to see any club go through what they’ve been through over the last 12 months,” said Calland.
“Whitehaven needs a strong rugby league side and there are a lot of very proud people at that club.
“Any side that gets a point at Sheffield is going to be competitive and we are expecting a tough game.”
Halifax (from): Greenwood, White, Worrincy, Haley, Nash, Jones, Black, Gannon, Penkywicz, Cherryholme, Smith, Larder, S. Barlow, J. Barlow, Clayton, Fairbank, Chandler, Ostick, Moran.