HALIFAX vice captain Paul Handforth believes the nerve-shredding drama of the last fortnight has been the perfect preparation for Sunday’s Co-operative Championship opener against Hunslet at the Shay.
Both of Fax’s last two Northern Rail Cup matches were only settled on the final play of the game; Liam Finn’s touchline conversion sentencing them to a 34-32 home loss to Featherstone a fortnight ago and Wayne Reittie’s try giving them a 16-12 win at London Skolars last weekend.
And Handforth, who put in the kick for his former Batley teammate to score in north London, predicts that Karl Harrison’s new-look side will benefit from the experience.
“We’ve had a couple of good, tight games over the last couple of weeks and as a team we will have learnt from that,” said the 29 year old.
“Even though we didn’t get the result against Featherstone, I think there are some good signs there for the future.
“We’re a new bunch of players and we know now we are never going to give up; Sunday was a very tough game in very difficult conditions and London kept coming at us.
“We stuck at it pretty well and came away with the win, which as far as the knockout stages go was all that mattered.
“There were a lot of times when the final pass went down, or we couldn’t get the ball down, and we could probably have gone away with the game comfortably.
“We didn’t, and made it hard for ourselves, but on the other hand we got stuck in, stayed together and came away with a result.
“It was probably good preparation for Sunday because Hunslet will never go away, similar to how the Skolars played at the weekend.
“Barry Eaton’s a great coach and if we are not on the ball and up to speed we will not come away with a result.”
Handforth confirmed he had been offered the chance to opt out of the long trip down the M1, but told Harrison he wanted to play in order to develop his understanding with fellow playmakers Sean Penkywicz, Anthony Bowman and Anthony Thackeray.
“Karl said that he was thinking about resting me,” said Handforth.
“I told him I was fine and that I didn’t want to miss any game and that was that, really.
“It’s important for me that I keep working on those combinations with the other half backs and Penky at hooker.
“We went well at Dewsbury and went well at Featherstone and while conditions really dictated the game in London, which meant we couldn’t play the way we wanted to play, it was still a chance to work together and build that understanding.”