HALIFAX coach Karl Harrison has labelled Sunday’s pre-season date at Super League outfit Salford as his side’s “major” warm-up fixture.
Harrison’s new-look side will have played four times by the time they run out at Dewsbury for their Northern Rail Cup opener on February 12.
Neighbours Keighley were comfortably disposed of 44-6 on Boxing Day, while this weekend’s trip to the Reds’ new stadium at Barton will be followed by an away day at Championship rivals Leigh - who stunned Salford 36-12 last weekend - on January 22 and a home game with another top flight team, Huddersfield, on January 29.
But Harrison believes the clash with the club he guided to the Super League play offs in 2006 is still likely to provide the best benchmark of Fax’s abilities.
“We are treating this as our major friendly,” confirmed Harrison.
“Leigh will obviously be tough next week, but we don’t know what kind of team Huddersfield will bring and I think this is our best chance to test ourselves.
“I’m expecting a big reaction from Salford, I’m sure Phil Veivers will have demanded that from them.
“They were absolutely terrible against Leigh; I’ve seen some footage from that game and Leigh looked like the Super League side.
“There will hopefully be a backlash from that game and that’s exactly what we want at this stage, to test ourselves in a hard game against determined opposition.
“I’ve not spoken to Phil this week but I’m sure he’ll play his top squad.
“If they’re fit and available, I think they’ll be playing.”
Harrison will name his line up in the next 24 hours, with the former Batley prop Sean Hesketh a certain starter after missing the Keighley game through the second half of a two match ban picked up at the end of last season.
The Wales forward Ross Divorty, the son of former Fax loose forward Gary, will not feature though.
Harrison estimated the former Hull, York, Doncaster and Featherstone forward is still a fortnight away from playing as he recovers from the after-effects of a training accident.
“We think Ross will be ready for the Giants game,” he said.