Halifax boss Richard Marshall is determined not to be ‘out coached’ by friend and rival Sylvain Houles for a second time this season when the club host high-flying Toulouse at the Shay on Sunday (3.0).
Fax need to beat the second-placed French outfit, and then win their final game against Dewsbury, to clinch a place in the Super 8s Qualifiers.
Marshall pipped his former London Broncos teammate Houles - the pair shared a house at one stage of their careers in the capital - in the race for last year’s top four, but the Frenchman got his revenge in the spring as Fax sank without trace in the south of France in March, losing 38-6.
“We got outsmarted the last time we played them,” admitted Marshall, whose side lost 20-18 in London last week, with the coach vaguely critical of his players’ performance post-match.
“They’d had two weeks to get ready for us, to find some weaknesses in our game, and it showed.
“He’s a good bloke, Sylvain, but I don’t want to be getting out coached this week, that’s for sure.
“They’re a really good team - the full back, Mark Kheirallah, is exceptional and Johnathan Ford is a quality player - and we need to make sure we perform at our best.
“We have to execute our plan better than we did last week, that’s for sure.
“We did a full review of the London game on Tuesday night and picked out a few things we need to fix up.
“Our kicking game and chase has to be a lot, lot better this weekend, as do our levels of concentration.
“In Toulouse, we were 16 points behind in the first 10 minutes, which is a warning for us.
“We know we need to win this week and, if we do, we know we need to win again against Rochdale next weekend.
“There’s pressure, but there was pressure against Featherstone the other week and that inspired us rather than stifled us.
“There was some fatigue after the London game so we need to freshen up by the weekend, but I think that’s as much a mental thing as anything physical.
“We’ll be ready to go by Sunday.”
Marshall has injury doubts over back rowers Simon Grix and Shane Grady, who are both nursing knee injuries, with winger Will Sharp also struggling.
None of the trio trained on Tuesday night, with Marshall rating Grix, the most serious of the three, as a “50/50 chance”.
Forward Will Maher will play on dual-registration from Castleford, while Marshall also has centre Ben Heaton and prop Dan Fleming pushing for places in the wake of the London loss.
“There’s a few players we need to look at again this week before we finalise the team,” said Marshall.
One player who won’t be featuring is the Wigan back rower Macauley Davies, who returned to the Warriors at the end of his month’s loan and has since moved to Swinton on loan as part of the deal that took centre Chris Hankinson in the other direction.
“Macauley wasn’t really close to getting in the team, so he went back to Wigan and then to Swinton,” said Marshall.
“He’s someone we’ll be keeping tabs on though.”