"I'm excited to get going" - Panthers boss Grix happy with how his new-look squad is shaping up

Panthers boss Simon Grix says he is excited by how his squad is shaping up as preparations for the new Championship season continue.

Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 3:00 pm
Simon Grix

Fax are currently well into their pre-season training programme, and will return to action in their Boxing Day game against Bradford Bulls, while Grix said the club was hoping to arrange another warm-up game in January.

Grix has overseen a plethora of new signings at The Shay since the end of last season, and says his team will be a different proposition next term.

"It'll be different, we've got a lot of new bodies," he said.

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"It's not ideal to turn over that many players in one off-season obviously - we did that the year before because we felt we needed to.

"This time we had a number of lads retire and some moving on for different factors.

"I think the important thing is we've brought in good players and good people, they're all coming with something to prove, so I'm excited by that."

Fax's outstanding 2021 campaign ended in defeat in the Championship play-off semi-final against Featherstone Rovers.

Grix said the Panthers' impressive season helped attract new players during their recruitment drive.

"I think when you're finishing in the bottom third, it's difficult to sell your club with any sort of conviction about where you want to be and what you want to achieve," he said.

"But if you're finishing closer to the top end, you're a bit more of an attractive proposition for the better players.

"If you want to get better, you've got to shoot for better players, and they're either playing in Super League or at the top end of the Championship, and you've got to be able to entice them.

"We've done well, we've got some good lads in who have got a lot to prove. They're not coming in on their last legs to pick up a bit of a pay-day, they're coming with plenty in the tank still and they've brought a lot to the group so far, so it's been really good, a very enjoyable first few weeks of pre-season.

"We've focused on skill, small-sided games getting some communication and getting them to understand each other.

"Over the next few weeks leading into Christmas we'll focus more on the rugby side of things and get a good feel of how we all fit into how I want us to be and how I want us to play."

When asked if he thought his side's superb 2021 season had given the club a strong platform from which to build for the upcoming campaign, Grix said: "Yes and no, in sport what you did the year before doesn't really count for much because it starts again.

"We've always gad a bit of an underdog mentality at Halifax, which has probably served us well.

"But we're in a different position, having finished third in the league, where you're not necessarily the underdog anymore, so you have to take a different tact to how you approach the season.

"But we're looking forward to it, we've made some good signings, got a really good feel for it so far in pre-season, so I'm excited to get going.

"The season's going to come round super early, January 30 start is going to come round real quick.

"It's not ideal for anyone I don't think. Generally starting in mid-Feb was never ideal because you're up against it weather-wise and all the rest of it, but starting in Jan's going to add to that.

"There's a lot of good teams this year, everyone's tried to strengthen and shown a bit of ambition so I'm really looking forward to it, it's going to be an exciting league, I dare say more unpredictable and exciting than the league above us, which I thought it was this year."