WITH four days to go before Halifax kick off their Co-operative Championship campaign in Toulouse, centre James Haley says they are relishing the extra pressure of defending their title.
Ben Black’s drop goal snatched Fax a brilliant Grand Final victory over Featherstone last autumn and now Haley has his sights set on doing it all again.
“Being champions is one thing, but being champions again is even harder to do,” said the long-serving threequarter, who at just 26 has become the first Fax player since Steve Smith in 1990-91 to be awarded a full testimonial for 10 years service to his hometown club.
“That’s our aim now.
“Other teams are going to be more motivated when they play us, starting with Toulouse this weekend, but that’s something we will enjoy.
“You want to be tagged as champions and you have to deal with the pressure that comes with that.
“It’s a big year for me personally too because of the testimonial and I just want to be playing week in, week out.
“I have had enough time off rugby with injuries over the last few years.
“I just want to be in the team as much as I can.
“But there is so much competition for places in the backline now, you need to take the chances that you get.”
Haley teamed up with Dylan Nash in the centres for last weekend’s 76-6 Challenge Cup flogging of Castleford Lock Lane as Fax booked their place in the fourth round draw on March 20.
And with that hurdle successfully negotiated he is now eyeing a bigger game down the track.
“It’s massive to the club financially and for the players you hope you get a Super League opponent at some stage,” said Haley.
“If that happens, it pushes you and gives you the chance to see how far off that standard you are, as individuals and a team.
“That’s the hope, and it would be good for everyone, so we will see what happens when they make the draw.”