HALIFAX coach Karl Harrison has confirmed that former BARLA captain Ryan Fieldhouse is in pole position to start at full back in the Northern Rail Cup opener at Dewsbury on February 12.
Harrison has tried three players in the number one shirt in pre season: Fieldhouse, last season’s top try scorer Paul White and former Oldham youngster Ben Heaton.
But after scoring two tries and setting up two more in last weekend’s 58-6 friendly win over Huddersfield, Fieldhouse is now the favourite.
“Fieldhouse looked sharp, he looked very confident and he brought the ball back strongly,” said Harrison.
“I also thought he fed confidence through to the team because they felt safe with him there.
“That’s where he wants to play, that’s where he played all his junior rugby and that’s probably his best position.
“I think Paul White will get better there as the grounds get harder and faster and Ben Heaton, who I thought went pretty well in the centre on Sunday, is a proven full back in Championship One.
“We have options and choices there, depending on the opposition.
“But based on Sunday’s game, and the other three friendlies, I would have thought that Fieldy has named his spot. He is the front runner at the moment.”
With Harrison’s former Batley protege Wayne Reittie a confirmed starter on the wing against the Rams, that would leave White and fellow flyer Rob Worrincy chasing one spot, with the loser virtually certain to miss out on selection altogether.
“The dilemma now is that we have to pick a 17 man side for the Dewsbury game rather than a 20,” said Harrison.
“There are some people who are probably going to be a little bit upset they are not in the 17.
“I’ve already said Craig Ashall and Wayne Reittie will play, so that leaves 15 spots.
“People like Josh Barlow, who scored twice against Huddersfield, and Rob, who scored four, are not guaranteed places in the side, which shows how tough the decisions are going to be.
“I’d probably say we could name 10 now, without discussing it.
“Me and Lee (Greenwood) would probably pick the same 10 and then talk about the other seven.
“As far as the wingers go though, Wayne’s cemented his spot, which leaves Rob and Whitey going for the last one.”