Johnston expected to return for Fax in Good Friday showdown

Ben Johnston
Ben Johnston

Halifax half back Ben Johnston has declared himself fit for the Good Friday Championship fixture at Barrow (3.0).

Johnston, the former Castleford player, missed Sunday’s defeat by Leigh - his second successive weekend on the sidelines - with a hip injury but was given the all-clear after a medical check up on Tuesday.

“Ben trained fully on Tuesday night so he should be in contention providing there’s no reaction,” said Fax boss Karl Harrison, who has the option of reuniting Johnston with Scott Murrell at the scrum base or keeping Paul Mennell in the halves and moving Murrell back to loose forward.

“We’ve discussed a lot of different options and those discussions will continue.

“I thought Mennell played very well against Leigh and him and Johnston would give us a definite two-sided attack.

“But we tried three pivots earlier in the season and it didn’t really work for us, so that’s a consideration as well.

“There’s also young Keith Holden to think about at hooker, because he did nothing wrong against Leigh.

“What happens at half back has a knock on effect on him.”

Harrison, who said he expected centre Danny Cowling to have recovered from the hamstring problem that ruled him out against Leigh, also explained the decision to allow close-season half back signing Simon Brown to join Batley on loan late last week.

“I’ve a lot of time for Simon, but he wasn’t making our side,” said Harrison.

“He wanted some game time and Batley wanted a half back, so he’s gone there for a month to build some form and some confidence.”

The Raiders, now under the tutelage of Harrison’s former GB teammate Bobbie Goulding, are currently bottom of the table, with just one win in seven starts and lost 38-18 to Featherstone last weekend.

“I spoke to (Rovers coach) John Bastian and they really had a go at Featherstone,” said Harrison.

“They’re not a bad side; we turned in a poor performance up there last year and got beaten.

“It’s a big game and if we don’t turn up, we’ll get beaten again.”