Fax seek redemption against in-form Toulouse after Challenge Cup flop

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Halifax will face an ‘on fire’ Toulouse side in the south of France on Saturday night (5.0), according to under-fire coach Richard Marshall.

Marshall, who has guided Fax to two top four finishes in three seasons, flies out to France with his players on Friday on the back of a disastrous Challenge Cup result - and performance - against League 1 Oldham on Tuesday night, the Roughyeds running out easy 27-6 winners.

Fax will recall all the players who were rested against Oldham, with Scott Murrell, Shane Grady Simon Grix, Will Sharp, Jacob Fairbank, Will Maher and Daniel Murray all returning.

Fax will be seeking a second straight win in Toulouse, having won there last summer on their way to pipping the French side in the race for a top four finish.

And Marshall admitted only another victory - which would catapult Fax into the thick of the top four race - would go close to vindicating the events of earlier in the week.

“There are seven or eight players to come back in and we need to go there and get a result,” said Marshall.

“But we have to improve 99 per cent on what we dished up against Oldham.

“It (the team selection against Oldham) was a risk; everything is a calculated gamble when you’re coaching and I had to weigh the benefits of not playing our strongest team.

“Let’s talk about it at the end of August and look at it then. I hope it will turn out to be the right decision.

“Toulouse opted out of the Challenge Cup; they’ll be rested and they’re on fire at the moment, one of the top teams in the Championship.

“They’re up there because they’re a really good side and they play an exciting brand of rugby.

“Johnathan Ford is back in there, pulling the strings at half back and he makes them very dangerous with the ball.

“They’ll be ready for us after last year; they’ll look at the result from Tuesday and know we’ve been knocked about.”

While Fax’s selection will undoubtedly be stronger, it seems unlikely to include full back James Woodburn-Hall, who limped off against Oldham with suspected ankle ligament damage.

And it seems certain to be Murray’s final appearance, for now at least, with the on-loan prop tipped to return to Salford ahead of the Easter programme.

“James has hurt his ankle, possibly ligament damage, which he has had issues with before, so I can’t see him playing,” said Marshall.

“We’ll have Dan Murray this week, but then he’ll be going back to Salford for Easter.

“I’m not expecting any dual-reg from Castleford this week either.”

One player who won’t be playing for Fax in the foreseeable future is the teenage half back Morgan Punchard.

The Castleford youngster, who had yet to make his senior debut, has opted to move to Australia to play country football, although Marshall confirmed had retained his registration should he return to the UK.

“Morgan had an opportunity to go over there,” said Marshall.

“He probably needs to go and do that and he’ll come back a better player.”