“We’re not there to make up the numbers” says Woodburn-Hall ahead of Panthers’ play-off semi-final

James Woodburn-Hall has admitted that Halifax Panthers aren’t in the Championship semi-final just to make up the numbers.

Thursday, 30th September 2021, 8:58 am
Coral Challenge Cup Quarter-Final. Bradford Bulls v Halifx RLFC. Halifax's James Woodburn-Hall is congratulated on his winning try. 2nd June 2019. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe

The Fax scrum-half insists that despite the underdog tag, the Panthers shouldn’t be overlooked ahead of this Saturday’s clash with Featherstone Rovers.

“It’s a massive occasion,” said the 26-year-old. “You don’t get too many opportunities to play in a semi-final. I’m really excited and really looking forward to it.

“They [Featherstone] had a great year, you can’t knock them. They’ve only lost one game to Toulouse who eventually went on to finish above them. You certainly can’t knock Featherstone, they’ll be looking to win and looking to push for promotion. But we’re not there to make up the numbers and we’ll be looking to do the same.”

Halifax booked their place in the last four with a thrilling 24-20 victory over Whitehaven at the Shay.

Following a run of four defeats in five games, Woodburn-Hall admits that the result certainly helped to build momentum.

He said: “The difference in performance [against Whitehaven] was massive. We had a great game against Batley the week before, even though we lost. The performance itself, you could tell there was a difference from the week before that. We’re building [momentum] nicely.”

Considering this is his sixth season at the club, the player needs no reminder about the magnitude of the club’s achievement this year.

Nevertheless, he hopes the Panthers can take that one step further in spite of their underdog status.

He said: “I’ve been at Halifax for six years now and a lot of time we’ve had the underdogs tag, it’s something we’re used to. Featherstone have rightly earned to be called favourites, they finished above us in the league.

“But that doesn’t mean they’re worlds ahead of us. Like I said, we’re not there to make up the numbers, we’re looking to put on a good performance and hopefully get the win.

“This is massive for the club. We’ve reached the playoffs a couple of times and there was that recent Challenge Cup semi-final but this is a real opportunity to do something for Halifax. It’s definitely in my top three experiences at the club.”

This historic clash with Featherstone will take place at Post Office Road – a venue known for its brazen atmosphere. However, Woodburn-Hall hopes that a large contingent of Fax fans will make for a special afternoon in West Yorkshire.

He said: “The atmosphere is going to be amazing. It’s Saturday so everyone will be out in full spirit. Featherstone always have a good fanbase, it can be quite a hostile place at times which is quite enjoyable. I’m sure we’ll travel well Halifax fans never let us down and they’ll give us support we need to go out there and beat them.”

Woodburn-Hall is also excited about featuring live on Sky Sports saying: “It’s great to showcase what we can do in the Championship. We play a good brand of rugby and it’s something we should showcase more.

“The games at the weekend definitely showed that, they were both close games. It’s good television and a good sport to watch so I’m excited to do that.”