Halifax boss Richard Marshall said his side will be out “to have fun” when they line up against the bottom four Super League clubs in the first middle eights.
Fax sealed a top four spot ahead of next weekend’s final league fixture against Bradford (3.0) at the Shay with a 52-0 thrashing of Doncaster at the Keepmoat Stadium, with Featherstone’s 38-28 defeat against Sheffield making the issue mathematically certain.
As things stand, that will give Fax home games against Leigh, Hull KR and Widnes when the competition splits in three weeks time, with away days at Sheffield, Wakefield, Salford and Bradford.
Financially, Fax have guaranteed themselves a minimum payday of £450,000, an increase of £250,000 on this season’s central funding.
“I’d say we’ve had a great year,” said Marshall, who has defied the odds - and the superior spending power of a number of his rivals - since succeeding Karl Harrison last autumn.
“I don’t want to disrespect the concept of the eights - because in theory everyone has a chance of getting into Super League - but for us it will be about going out there, having some fun and ruffling some feathers.
“We’ve come a long way this season and we want to finish the season on a high and get something out of it to build for next year.
“People might say we’ve over achieved, but I hate the phrase over achievement, because I think everyone in life should try to over achieve.
“I know we probably weren’t expected to finish in the top four, but I know what I expected.
“When I came in, I knew it was a quality team, but I expected improvement and that’s what we’ve got.
“I didn’t necessarily expect to be where we are, but you tend to get out what you put in and we deserve to be where we are.”
Marshall, who saw centre Steve Tyrer claim 24 points with two tries and eight conversions against the Dons, watched his side clinch their place with an eighth successive win.
“We trained really well in the week, we did a lot of work with the ball and I thought our skills were very good all game,” he said.
“We put a good plan together and the players executed it well.
“The attitude underpins everything and the attitude this week has been first class.
“The team spirit is up there with the best I’ve experienced in my career and that will always help get you over the line.
“The nil pleases me the most, because at this stage of the year you need your defence to be in order and ours was.
“We reshuffled the team a lot and we managed to get Scott Murrell off in that second half.
“We need to manage the team and we’ve been trying to give him a break for five or six weeks but we’ve not been able to.
“I’m not sure he wants a rest, I think he’d go mad, but we need to look after him because we’ve not got many options there.”