Halifax have signed young talents Brandon Moore, Elliot Morris and James Woodburn-Hall on new deals, tieing them to the club until the end of the 2017 season.
Former Castleford hooker Moore and ex-Huddersfield front rower Morris have already made their mark at first team level, with the impressive Moore likely to make a fourth consecutive Championship appearance in Sunday’s home game against Swinton (3.0).
Woodburn-Hall, a Londoner who played half back for the Broncos in Super League while he was still at school, has been on trial at the Shay and has shown enough potential for coach Richard Marshall to take a chance on the Leeds-based student.
“They’ve earned these deals and it sends a message to the other young players in our reserve side that there is a clear pathway through to the first team at Halifax,” said Marshall.
“Brandon was probably a little bit unlucky not to get a Super League deal with Castleford and Martin Gonzalez, who is our head of youth, deserves a lot of credit for bringing him to the club.
“He can become an important player for us; we can develop his skills further and he’s got two great mentors in Ben Kaye and Ryan Maneely.
“Elliot is a strong young man even though he’s nowhere near maturity for a front rower.
“He will get some games over the next few weeks and he’s another player we’ll look to nurture over the next 18 months.
“James is an attacking player, a flair player; he’s exciting to watch and exciting to coach.
“I think he wants to play half back, but he can also offer us something at centre, wing and full back.
“He’s still got some work to do on his fitness, but there’s definitely some potential there.”
Marshall all-but confirmed Moore would continue against John Duffy’s Lions this weekend, suggesting there will be minimal selection changes, although winger Will Sharp - the 18th man at Featherstone last weekend - could return.
That meant “seven or eight” senior players, including the fit-again winger Gareth Potts, featured in Thursday night’s second-string clash with St Helens at Huddersfield YMCA, a game Simon Grix’s side eventually lost 24-12.
Swinton will arrive in town at long-odds to prevent Fax from making it four straight league wins, but Marshall, who played his final professional game for the Manchester club, was quick to highlight their win over Workington last week as evidence of their potential threat.
“They’ve got some experienced players and they’ve got some talented young players as well,” said Marshall.
“I know John Duffy quite well and I’ve got a bit of an affinity with the club because it’s where I finished my playing career.
“They’ve taken some knocks over the last few years but personally I’m glad they’re still around.
“They’ll be confident, but so will we.
“We want to repeat the defensive performance we got at Featherstone last weekend, but also want to be a lot better with the ball this weekend.
“The attack is definitely a focus for us.”