Halifax coach Richard Marshall says his team need to raise their game to a “different intensity” when they face Toulouse in a crucial Championship top four showdown at Blackpool on Sunday (3.0).
Fifth-placed Fax take on the French side, who currently sit third, level on points but ahead on scoring difference, in the second game of the second day of this season’s Summer Bash at Bloomfield Road.
And with second-placed Featherstone playing fourth-placed London on Saturday evening, the annual seaside jamboree will have a significant impact on the race for a place in the Super 8s Qualifiers.
“It’s an important game, we all know that,” said Marshall, whose side bounced back from their Challenge Cup loss to Featherstone by beating Rochdale 28-2 last weekend.
“We’re well aware of what’s at stake and the impact it could potentially have on where we finish at the end of the year.
“At the same time though, I’m not going to build it up into a must-win game because it’s not.
“We hammered Featherstone in the same game last year, but they made the four and we ended up missing out, so it’s not going to be decisive whatever happens.
“The focus for us is to play at a different kind of intensity, because that was probably the difference at Featherstone in the Cup.
“These matches between the top four or five teams are a different level and games like Rochdale don’t really do us any favours; having reviewed that, it was rubbish really.
“The good thing is that the players have realised that and they know what they need to do.”
Marshall will be without in-form back rower Shane Grady, who has taken an early guilty plea and a one match ban for a trip in the game at Featherstone.
This weekend’s double ration of Super League games - with teams playing Friday and Monday - has also deprived Fax of any dual-registered Salford players.
“We won’t have Shane and we won’t be getting anything from Salford,” said Marshall, who will give a debut to young Castleford forward Brandon Douglas, who has joined the club on loan.
“I’d probably have liked to keep Dan Murray, but Brandon trained last night and looked strong; he runs the ball hard and he’ll do a good job for us.”
The absence of injured hooker Ben Kaye means young number nine Brandon Moore will again do an 80 minute stint, or close to it.
“Brandon’s physically capable of playing a full game there,” said Marshall.
“There are things we can do to limit the amount of ground he has to cover, and we might put Scott Murrell or someone else in there for five or 10 minutes if we need to.”
Fax have already lost out to Toulouse once this season, in a dour encounter in early March which the French side snatched 12-10.
The dominant figure that day was the Cook Islands half back Johnathon Ford, who is currently sidelined through injury.
“He’s probably the best half back in the Championship,” said Marshall.
“I don’t think they’re as good without him, but they’ve adapted and other players are taking more ownership because he’s been absent.
“We can’t be thinking it’s going to be easy just because he’s not playing.”