Halifax coach Simon Grix has told his players to make sure they are not ‘beaten for effort’ in Saturday’s Challenge Cup semi final against St Helens (4.0).
Fax’s indifferent Championship record in 2019, coupled with Saints’ electrifying Super League form, has made the game at Bolton a virtual mission impossible for Grix’s part-timers.
But the rookie boss - who only took charge in April following the exit of Richard Marshall, ironically now the Saints’ assistant coach - pointed out that on this occasion relative success or failure may not be measured on the scoreboard.
“We’re realistic; we’re certainly under no illusions about what could happen,” said Grix, acknowledging the possibility of a blow-out scoreline.
“This is the best St Helens team for a long time, and arguably one of the best Super League sides for a while.
“At the moment, they’re going out and pumping Super League teams - their peers - by 50 points, so it wouldn’t be a massive surprise to anyone if they did the same to us, would it?
“I think the important thing for us is to be as good as we can be and to control the things we can control.
“We might be beaten by the obvious physical differences - size, power - and we might be beaten by skill, but what I don’t want to see is us beaten for effort.
“You might not be able to measure that from the scoreboard, but we’ll know if we’ve done everything we can.
“We’ve been waiting for this for a long time now and I just want us to enjoy the occasion, get it over with and focus fully on our last five Championship games.
“The season doesn’t end this weekend.”
Grix hopes to have both his brother Scott and captain Scott Murrell available for selection, with the manner of last weekend’s 28-28 draw at Dewsbury likely to prove costly for some of his players.
Grix senior has missed the last two games with a torn calf, but was spotted going through rehab drills with conditioner Andy Holleyhead after the game at Rams Stadium.
Murrell left the field early after being hit in the back and spent Sunday evening in hospital having scans on a suspected fractured vertebrae.
Those came back clear and although the veteran half back, who was forced to sit out Hull KR’s appearance in the last four in 2006 against Saints through injury, missed a Press call at Bolton on Monday, Grix named both players in a 19-man squad on Thursday.
One player who missed the cut was enigmatic Samoan full back Quentin Laulu-Togagae.
The veteran playmaker, who is widely expected to move to League 1 Newcastle next season, scored two tries against the Rams but also made a series of errors.
“Murrell is a bit sore, but he’ll be okay,” said Grix.
“My brother needs to come through a week’s training, but he’s done everything he can to be ready.
“We certainly missed them both at Dewsbury; Muzza’s control and Scott’s effort and involvement.
“We’ve got a couple of long term absentees in Shane Grady and Sion Jones, but other than that we’re okay so there are some decisions to make.
“There are going to be some disappointed players, but some of them will need to ask themselves whether they did everything they could to be selected, not just against Dewsbury but over the last few weeks.”