Gannon: New rules could suit Halifax

PROP Jim Gannon believes the game’s new 10-interchange rule could play into Halifax’s hands ahead of Sunday’s Northern Rail Cup opener at Dewsbury.

The Rugby Football League has cut from 12 the number of substitutions coaches can make, a move the veteran Australian reckons will have a subtle but significant effect on matches.

And he feels that Karl Harrison’s side are as well placed as any side to deal with the transition.

“It’s a good thing for me; I wish they’d done it a few years ago,” said Gannon.

“I’ve always been capable of pushing on and playing 60 or 70 minutes if I’m needed and it’s going to suit that kind of player.

“I don’t think it’s going to make a massive difference, but I think you will notice it at the back end of the halves.

“If you’ve got players in the middle who cannot push past that 30 minute mark and then you’ve got someone really explosive, like Sean Penkywicz, coming out of dummy half then they’re going to be on their last legs.

“I think for Halifax it’s probably an advantage: Players like me, Iain Morrison, Matt James, and Sam Barlow and Ross Divorty when they get back from injury, can all play long minutes.

“We’ve probably only got Makali Aizue who is genetically that explosive kind of player who struggles to do that.

“It’s going to be interesting to see what effect it has on Dewsbury too, because in the last few years they’ve had these massive forwards who were blowing after 15 minutes.

“I know they’ve made a lot of changes this winter, but I don’t think it can be a bad thing for us.”

Gannon, who was initially told to retire by Harrison before being handed a late reprieve after Aizue and Barlow were ruled out with long-term injuries before Christmas, described himself as “happy” with his own form going into the clash with the Rams.

“I was injured for Salford, but I felt I went okay against Keighley and Huddersfield,” said Gannon, who is also working alongside Martin Gonzalez coaching Fax’s under 23 side.

“Considering I started training a bit behind everyone else, I’m happy.

“There’s probably a bit more to come from me in terms of fitness, but I think that’s true of everyone at this time of year.

“We’re all just looking forward to getting the season started now.”

Having had their own house-warming ruined on the opening weekend of Stobart Super League season, Salford will be aiming to turn party poopers at St Helens tonight.

The Reds are the first visitors to Langtree Park, Saints’ new £30million state-of-the-art stadium, hoping it will prove more productive for them than Knowsley Road.

Salford never won at Knowsley Road in Super League and they have lost 27 consecutive away matches against St Helens since triumphing 18-17 in 1980.

After spending the whole of his first campaign ground-sharing Widnes’ Stobart Stadium, Saints coach Royce Simmons is looking forward to his first ‘home’ game.

“It worried everyone else more than it worried me,” he said. “In Australia, you get in the habit of playing at different venues.

“We haven’t spoken too much about the new stadium just yet but a bit closer to the game we’ll probably talk about how important it is to set a good standard here. I’m looking forward to a good atmosphere. The crowd will certainly bring us home if we turn up in the right frame of mind to start with.

“The atmosphere over here is a lot better than the atmosphere in Australia - 18,000 St Helens supporters can make more noise than 40,000 supporters in Australia. It was a difference I didn’t probably see.”

While Saints made a winning start to the season at London Broncos, the Reds suffered a disappointing 24-10 defeat by Castleford at their new Salford City Stadium in their first Super League match under new coaches Phil Veivers and Sean Long, both former St Helens players.