Marshall: Fax looking for new playmaker after Place’s exit

James Saltonstall heads for the whitewash
James Saltonstall heads for the whitewash

Halifax coach Richard Marshall has confirmed the club are hunting for half back cover after Australian playmaker Matt Place flew back to Sydney after just three months in England.

Place, a former Souths junior, terminated his contract for ‘family reasons’, leaving Marshall - who had already lost Paul Mennell to retirement - with just two specialist playmakers in Ben Johnston and Scott Murrell.

The pair started and finished Sunday’s 26-13 win over Dewsbury together and are automatic selections for next weekend’s Challenge Cup trip to Barrow.

But with a busy Easter - featuring trips to relegated Super League sides London and Bradford and an Easter Monday home game against Hunslet - looming, Marshall is well aware of the need for reinforcements.

“We are looking, but we’ve not identified anyone at the minute,” said Marshall, who saw his side come from 13-12 down against the Rams to seal victory with three tries in the final seven minutes.

“We’re not in a rush, because I don’t particularly think our half backs have hit their straps yet.

“We’re okay for the minute, but with Easter coming up maybe we will need some extra competition there.”

Marshall’s attacking options have been further reduced by the long term loss of full back Miles Greenwood, who faces a fight to play again in 2015 after breaking his leg against Featherstone in round four.

Young talent James Saltonstall deputised against the Rams, recovering from a frustrating first half - which saw him penalised twice in possession for moving off the mark - to score one try and make another for speedster Gareth Potts.

“Salty wasn’t great in the first half and he hurt us with a couple of penalties in possession,” said Marshall.

“Some of those are justified, some aren’t, but the smart people learn from their mistakes and he showed how smart he is by reining himself in a little bit in that second half.

“He did his job really well after the break; he is a quality player, he is fearless and he put some big plays on that helped us win that game.

“Look, we definitely haven’t clicked yet; I’ve changed the team a little bit and that’s been a conscious decision so I can see who can compete at this level.

“Players have performed well in certain parts of certain games, but we still have some work to do with the ball.

“I said to the players after the game, this is such a tight competition this year you really need to be smart when you get into scoring positions, because there isn’t a lot between any of the teams this year.

“I am pleased we got a home win; that’s what the players have wanted and that’s what they have been speaking about.

“You are always nervous as a coach when you are behind, because you always want to be winning comfortably.

“But at 13-12, I felt that if we got an opportunity in good ball, we would take it, and we did.

“There were a lot of positives from that game.”