Karl: Gannon is training again

coach Karl Harrison has confirmed that Australian prop Jim Gannon is back in training with Halifax ahead of the Boxing Day friendly with Championship neighbours Keighley Cougars.

According to club officials, Gannon is close to completing the formalities of a contract that will see him become a ‘youth coach’ at the Shay, focusing on the scholarship and under 23s alongside Martin Gonzalez.

And, as Harrison revealed in Courier Sport last week, it will also present the 34 year old, who began his English career with Fax in 1999 before going on to play for Huddersfield, Hull KR and Widnes, with the chance of the on-field swansong he craves.

“Jim trained with us last Friday for the first time and again on Monday,” said Harrison.

“His primary job here will be as a coach, and I’m sure he’ll make a terrific figurehead for the young players at the club to look up to.

“As far as playing goes, he’s looked after himself and it’s up to him now, he just needs to get his head down and train hard.

“We’ll be without Sam Barlow and Makali Aizue for the Keighley game, and Sean Hesketh has a suspension hanging over from last season that will rule him out, so it could be that Jim gets a run that day.

“After that, it’s up to him.”

Harrison explained his initial decision to reject Gannon’s playing credentials when he began the process of assembling his 2012 squad in the autumn, before long-term injuries to Aizue and Barlow prompted a rethink.

“To be fair to Jim, he probably had a good year,” said Harrison.

“But I felt we needed to freshen up the front row, and having kept Aizue and Barlow, that meant making what was a tough decision on Jim.

“I also didn’t want him to do a year too many; I was a similar age when I went to Hull in 1999 and it was a struggle at times.”

Harrison also confirmed the club spoke to their former hooker Ben Fisher, before opting not to re-sign the Australian.

Fisher, who was a sensation during a one-season stay at the Shay in 2005, joined Championship rivals Batley - where he will rejoin his former Fax teammate Ben Black - at the weekend after a six-season stint with Hull KR, during which time he established himself as one of the top flight’s most reliable number nines.

“We were aware of Ben’s availability and we spoke to his representatives,” said Harrison.

“At the time we held those discussions, which was back in September, the player felt he was close to securing a contract with another Super League club and his financial demands reflected that.

“He didn’t fit into our wage structure at that stage so we went down a different avenue and signed a couple of young players in Craig Ashall and Callum Casey, who can both play in that position.”

THE Christmas draw run as part of Halifax centre James Haley’s testimonial takes place at the Ivy House, Holmfield, tonight.

The evening kicks off with a quiz at 8pm, with the draw made at 9pm.