Barber signs new deal ahead of clash with Rochdale

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Halifax have confirmed that utility player Ed Barber has signed a new two year contract with the club.

Barber, a former Elland junior who finally landed at his hometown club via Swinton four years ago, has played in every position barring wing and full back during his stint at the Shay.

And coach Simon Grix believes the best could be yet to come.

“At 29, Ed’s best years should still be in front of him,” said Grix, who will be without the player for Sunday’s clash with Rochdale as he sits out a one-game ban.

“I’m really keen on having players who bring some versatility and he certainly fits that bill for us.

“He’s played in the middle, at hooker, half back and across the backline as well as back row.

“He’s a very skilful player and when he’s playing well he’s very good offensively; he can really hurt teams.

“There are things I’d like him to improve on if he wants to become a genuine 80-minute back rower for us - his defence and a little bit of fitness - but we’re definitely happy to have him on board again.”

Barber’s deal is one of a string of player retentions announced in recent weeks, although so far Fax have not confirmed any incoming signings.

But while Grix remained tight-lipped on the identity of his transfer targets, he did reveal the club’s transfer business was close to being completed.

“I don’t think we’re too far away and there’ll be some announcements in due course,” he said.

“Ideally, we’ve probably a couple of spots still open, but whether we have the finances to fill those is perhaps reliant on bringing fresh finance into the business.

“I’m pretty happy with where we’re at; there were areas of the team we wanted to address and I think we’ve done that while staying within our budget.”

One player who Grix said he would like to keep in the long term is former Wakefield front rower Keegan Hirst, who is currently on loan at the Shay.

“Keegan’s been really good for us,” said Grix.

“He has come in with good standards, good values, and he doesn’t just lead by example.

“He’s not been afraid to take on some leadership and say what he thinks, which isn’t always easy coming into a new group.

“I’d certainly be interested in keeping him, but again finances are probably going to be an influence on what’s possible in that regard.”