Clubs should not be ‘coughing and spluttering’ through first few weeks of season says Liam Finn, as Halifax Panthers prepare to welcome York Acorn for final cup tie before league campaign

When Halifax Panthers welcome York Acorn to The Shay this Sunday, March 10 (kick off 3pm) for a fifth round Challenge Cup tie, it will be exactly six weeks since their 2024 campaign got underway with an 1895 Cup group fixture at Oldham.
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Within that time frame, due to the structure of this new season, there has been no room for Championship action. And, due to Fax’s defeat at Boundary Park in their curtain-raiser to the new year, it has been stop-start for Liam Finn’s men who have only played four times in those six weeks.

And the head coach believes the structure should be changed for 2025, with player safety in mind.

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He said: “We are fed up with prepping for two weeks for games and are happy to go week to week after this week.

Halifax Panthers' head coach Liam Finn (far left).Halifax Panthers' head coach Liam Finn (far left).
Halifax Panthers' head coach Liam Finn (far left).

“I don’t think it’s been the greatest start to a season. I understand it was sort of a last-minute arrangement and it was arranged to help out the League 1 clubs but teams spend two to three months preparing for a season to get their teeth into it from the start date onwards, not to cough and splutter their way through the first ten weeks.

“I am aware of the circumstances around it but in future we need to be at it for four to five weeks in a row to start the season for the safety of the players and get them into some game time.

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“Let’s start thinking about giving them little breaks and windows for time off if they are not in the cups as the season progresses, rather than at the start of the season.”

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On the prospect of facing National Conference League outfit York after beating Hammersmith Hills Hoists in the previous round, Finn said:

“I am sure these boys will put up a good fight. They are no mugs and they know how to play rugby league.

“We are aware of the challenge and we know they have got some players who can cause problems.

“We need to be on it as we are aware that we start our league season the week after, so the time for messing about has gone.”

Fax’s Championship campaign then starts at Finn’s old club Dewsbury Rams on Sunday, March 17.