“We must do the basics well” says Grix ahead of Halifax Panthers’ season opener on Friday

Halifax Panthers’ head coach Simon Grix is looking for an immediate response from his side as the new season gets underway on Friday night.

Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 9:08 am
Updated Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 11:06 am
Simon Grix. Photo: Simon Hall

The Panthers lost their first competitive game of the campaign, exiting the Challenge Cup with a 19-6 home loss to Batley.

However, Grix said the team have addressed mistakes, and worked on implementing attacking strategy.

“The players tried hard, but the discipline to get our plan done was not there,” Grix said.

Action from Halifax's loss to Batley. Photo: Simon Hall

“We’ve had an honest review, we looked at the areas which need to improve.

“We conceded some poor tries; and wasted a lot of chances through our decision-making.”

Grix couldn’t fault the effort level of his players, but emphasised the basic elements of the game need to improve ahead of Friday’s season opener.

“We need to do the basics well,” he said.

“Our kicks were poor, and we didn’t get enough consistent attacking pressure.“We have had time to address this, so hopefully it will help the team on Friday.”

The Panthers’ boss felt his side were so disappointed by their defensive work, that they failed to take heart from the more positive elements of the match.

“When we did string together some attacking moves, we should have celebrated those little successes,” he said. “That can have a big impact on the team’s overall mentality, and is important especially in the absence of fans.”

When asked about the Broncos, Grix added that he expects a competitive game, with the Panthers focusing on their own game regardless of the opposition.

“The tactics change somewhat depending on who you play,” he said, “but you have to get your end right. Our effort levels need to be high, with some good end of sets and have a fair share of the ball.”

The Panthers’ squad looks to be in good shape, with only a couple of injury doubts ahead of squad submission. Grix was confident of having most of the side available for selection, with only two or three doubts:

“We have a couple I need to check on,” he said. “There are a couple of niggles, and it’s early in the season so we don’t want to rush anyone back.”

The Broncos come into the game having lost 14-2 to York in the Challenge Cup second round. Grix watched both of the London side’s matches, suggesting the Panthers will be in for a tough game.

“They have a couple of exciting new players at half back,” Grix said. “Obviously, they’re a full-time team, so they probably have a bit of an advantage at the moment due to limited training times. However, this shouldn’t show in the game.”

James Saltonstall played his 150th game for the Panthers in the loss to Batley, and Grix praised the attitude and determination of his winger.

“150 games is a big  achievement for him,” he said. “He got through a ton of work against Batley, and came with the right attitude. He’s still fairly young, so hopefully we can get another 150 games out of him.”

Grix added: “We have a difficult start, but the competition gets better every year. We’ll take it one game at a time, but we also like to break the season down into blocks, to make it more manageable.”

The Panthers open their season at the Shay against the London Broncos on Friday, kicking-off at 5pm.