Updated: Fax to test themselves against Storm superstars

James Haley and Paul Smith try to unlock the Storm defence in 2008
James Haley and Paul Smith try to unlock the Storm defence in 2008

Halifax will face Australian Premiers Melbourne in an opposed training session at the Shay next month, three days before the Storm’s World Club Challenge showdown with Super League champions Leeds.

Craig Bellamy’s side, who played a full-blown warm up fixture against Fax in 2008 on their way to victory at Elland Road, will play a ‘semi contact’ game - which will be behind closed doors - against Karl Harrison’s Championship hopefuls on Tuesday, February 19.

“It’s not full contact, but it’s not no contact either,” said Harrison.

“Melbourne wanted a good practice session and it suits us too; we’d normally be doing the same kind of thing against our under 20s.

“It will be good for our boys to be on the same field as their players.”

Fax chairman Michael Steele confirmed the club had orginally asked Melbourne to play a full game, but had been rebuffed.

“We’ve kept quite a close relationship with them over the last few years and we did ask them if they would consider a warm up fixture,” said Steele.

“Their reply was that they weren’t planning to play one, but they offered us this instead, which our coaching staff are certainly very happy with.

“It will be behind closed doors though, which is entirely at Melbourne’s request.”

The Storm, who boast superstar Queensland and Australia trio Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater and Cameron Smith, have Halifax-born England stand off Gareth Widdop in their ranks.

They are due to arrive at the Shay in mid-afternoon, holding a private training session of their own before going head to head with Harrison’s players around 5.30pm in a ‘game’ that will last between 40 and 60 minutes.

Fax, who have rescheduled Sunday’s postponed game at Batley for Thursday night, have also pencilled in a second-string friendly at Leigh next Saturday (2.0).