On-trial Holden set for pre-season start

Keith Holden (Picture courtesy of Warrington Wolves)
Keith Holden (Picture courtesy of Warrington Wolves)

Halifax boss Karl Harrison has handed the former Widnes and Warrington hooker Keith Holden a trial deal that will see him feature in the club’s pre-season programme.

Holden, a former England under 16s number nine, turned professional for the Wolves in 2009, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, both also called Keith, who played for the club.

He spent 2011 with Widnes, but was not retained by the Halton Stadium side.

The Wigan-based player is the brother in law of the late Terry Newton, the former Wigan, Leeds, Bradford and Great Britain hooker, who took his own life in the autumn of 2010.

“Keith’s been a full time player with Warrington and there’s no doubt he’s got talent,” said Harrison, who has already signed Swinton rake Karl Ashall as he looks to plug the gap left by the departure of captain Sean Penkywicz to Leigh.

“I think he lost his way a little bit when Terry died but he’s got his focus back and he’s looking for a chance.

“He’ll train with us through to Christmas, play his part in the friendlies and we’ll look at things again at that stage.

“He’s a similar style to Karl Ashall, quick out of dummy half, and he’s looked pretty good so far.”

Harrison said he expects Holden, Karl Ashall and his brother Craig - who featured predominately at loose forward last season - to share the role in his side’s three warm up fixtures; against Keighley on Boxing Day, at Dewsbury on January 6 and against Batley on January 20.

“Injuries permitting, they’ll both get two games,” said Harrison.

“They’ll get a start and a bench each and we’ll see which combinations work best and who has the best form.”

Harrison could also be in the market for a new winger after first choice flanker Wayne Reittie was injured in an off field incident over the weekend.

Reittie is due to have facial surgery on Monday, but Harrison fears he could miss a significant chunk of the Championship season.

“I think it’s fair to say we’re looking at our options in the outside backs,” said Harrison.