Halifax coach Richard Marshall will trial a new half back pairing against what is expected to be a near full-strength Huddersfield side in Sunday’s Infirmary Cup clash at the Shay (3.0).
Australian Matt Place, a former Souths junior who joined Fax this winter from NSW Cup side Mounties, is expected to link up with former Castleford livewire Ben Johnston.
Captain Scott Murrell, who started the game alongside Johnston as Fax won 46-16 at Hull KR a fortnight ago, will be on the bench, alongside the former Batley player Paul Mennell.
Providing Sunday’s game does go ahead though after this week’s heavy snowfall - Fax officials said they were “monitoring” the situation ahead of an expected thaw - it looks likely to be Mennell’s last for the club after he informed Marshall he wants to retire with immediate effect.
“We know what Scott is capable of in terms of controlling a game, so I want to see what Ben and Matt can do as a combination, potentially against some very good Huddersfield half backs in Danny Brough, Luke Robinson and Jamie Ellis,” said Marshall.
“I thought Ben did some good things at Hull KR; he came up with some good defensive reads, although I would have liked him to attack the line a little bit more.
“Matt went well for his first game in this country and I thought he improved as the game went on, he was really starting to take control in the last 10 minutes.
“He did some good things on the edges and set up a nice try for Steve Tyrer.
“Scott will be on the bench and will play at some point, along with Paul.
“It will be Paul’s last game as he’s asked to be released from the final year of his contract.
“He’s got a young family, work commitments and he doesn’t feel he can commit fully to what we’re asking of him, so, reluctantly, we’ve agreed to his request.
“I would have liked to have seen what Paul could have done this year, but it’s not to be.”
Marshall, who said he may look to replace Mennell, expects to name around 20 players, including all those who missed out at New Craven Park, a list that would include hooker Keith Holden, winger Gareth Potts and, intriguingly assistant coach Rikki Sheriffe, the former Super League winger who has not played since the end of the 2013 season.
“Rikki expressed a desire to play at the start of pre season, he’s done the training and not looked out of place so he’s getting an opportunity,” said Marshall.
“He’s an experienced Super League player who would give us options at wing, centre and full back, so we’ll see how he goes.”
Cook Islands forward Adam Tangata is still waiting for his work permit to be rubber stamped, so will miss out.
Marshall confirmed that three players who impressed against Rovers, hooker Ben Kaye, centre Chris Taylor and winger Alex Brown, would all be rested.