Cowling’s fitness the key to Fax’s selection jigsaw

Danny Cowling
Danny Cowling

The fitness of centre Danny Cowling is likely to have a big impact on Halifax’s selection for Sunday’s Championship showdown with Batley at the Shay (3.0).

Cowling, the former Wakefield threequarter, injured his ankle early on in last week’s 28-20 defeat at Featherstone but lasted until the half hour before retreating to the bench.

And Fax assistant coach Lee Greenwood admitted Cowling’s availability - or lack of it - is likely to influence whether the Shay persist with winger Gareth Potts at full back or recall regular number one Ryan Fieldhouse, although the arrival of Tommy Saxton on a month’s loan provides another option.

“We are hoping Danny will recover in time, because I thought he did some good things when he was on the field last week, even though he was not running at 100 per cent,” said Greenwood.

“If Danny is fit, we would have some decisions to make in the backline again; if he’s not, we might end up moving Potts back to the wing, Ben Heaton to the centre and putting Ryan in at full back.

“I thought Potts was good last week, he’s very direct and he was getting himself into gaps.

“The pitch conditions aren’t ideal for him at the moment, so there are some good signs for him when things dry up a bit.

“Ryan knows he’s not been where he needs to be and he’s working hard to pick his form up.

“It’s good for everyone to have that competition in the side.”

Greenwood, who played and coached at Batley during head coach Karl Harrison’s stint in charge at Mount Pleasant, is anticipating a difficult contest, despite the 2013 Grand Finalists’ turnover of players this winter.

“They’re a different side, but they’ll play the same way and they’ll be just as difficult to play against,” said Greenwood, who is anticipating the return of half back Ben Black, the drop-goal hero of Fax’s 2010 Grand Final win over Featherstone..

“They’ve gone with a small squad and dual-reg with Huddersfield, so they could have six players in from the Giants and we’ve no idea who they’re going to be.

“Black’s been out after surgery, but it’s getting to the point where he should be coming back and we’re expecting him to play.

“That would give them a big boost.”