Head coach Grix calls for a “10 out of 10” performance in Panthers’ historic play-off showdown with Featherstone
Halifax Panthers are on the precipice of making rugby league history as they prepare for their Championship playoff semi-final against Featherstone Rovers.
Few expected Halifax to be in this position when the season first got underway. It’s fair to say that even fewer believed this was possible when the Panthers began the campaign with three defeats from their opening four games.
Nevertheless, the plucky side led by a young coach have defied the odds throughout the year. Question is, can they defy the odds once more in the single biggest game of their season?
Simon Grix certainly believes so but he also admits that it will take a near faultless performance to get one over the West Yorkshire outfit.
He said: “We’ve got another opportunity now, 17 against 17 in 80 minutes. Yes, we’ll be underdogs but I think that’s when we’re on our best. Stranger things have happened.
“I’m not saying we’re on a free hit or we don’t have any pressure on us. We don’t but there’s some expectation within our group.
“We played Featherstone five or six weeks ago. We were in the game but gifted them some stuff and they scored a few freakish tries. There’s no reason why a 10 out of 10 from us can’t sneak a victory over there.”
The words ‘Halifax’ and ‘semi-final’ are rarely used in one sentence. The last couple of decades haven’t exactly been smooth sailing for the club which is a fact that will make Saturday’s game all that more special.
Grix added: “Our fans have been great all year, I’ve said it time and time again. This club has been through some rough times, on the field, off the field, last 20 years, loads of it.
“But I feel like we’re on an upward trajectory. Off the field we’re starting to get our act together as well as on it. I’m really happy for the fans to get an opportunity to go to a game of this significance.
“It’s been a long time since we got to a semi-final in the league. It’s been a really good year in what I feel is my first full year. A tough old year between the rugby, the covid, heaps of other things that go on in the year. It’s been tough.
“The lads have tried really hard. They’ve bought in, they’ve shown the effort that’s needed on almost every occasion. We’ve got an opportunity now to go to
Featherstone with no expectation on us whatsoever. That’s quite a good position to be in going into these games.”
After a season of defying the odds, Grix will be sticking to the same formula which brought his team to the dance in the first place. With that in mind, when asked about his plans ahead of the game, the answer was simple.
He said: “We’ll do what we did last week to a degree, focus on ourselves. Get the best prep in that we can for another push at it and hope that we can earn ourselves another week and upset a lot of people.”