Marshall ponders options ahead of Rovers showdown

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Halifax coach Richard Marshall has a key decision to make at hooker ahead of Saturday night’s pivotal Championship date at Featherstone Rovers (6.0).

Fax are down to just one specialist number nine - the former Rovers player Ben Kaye - following Keith Holden’s decision to quit the club and the ankle injury suffered by Kaye’s regular partner Ryan Maneely.

Kaye played 80 minutes in last weekend’s 32-6 win at Workington, but Marshall must now decide whether he can do the same in a fifth-versus-sixth contest that could prove crucial in both clubs’ hunt for a top four finish.

“The big question this week will be at hooker,” said Marshall, who could turn to the versatile Ben Johnston - half back and full back in recent weeks - to offer his side a different attacking threat.

“Ben did well at Workington, but he wasn’t really tested in the same way he would be on Saturday night.

“Johnston’s not a specialist hooker, but he can play there and we could do some work round the ruck with him because he has some different attributes to Ben.

“It’s a big game, an important game, and we want to make sure we take the right team on the day.

“I don’t know about it being make or break for the top four; we’re possibly already relying on other results even if we were to win all our games.

“But if we’re going to take that next step and start picking off those teams above us, this would be a good place to start.”

If Johnston was used at hooker, it would open the door for the on loan Widnes stand off Danny Craven, who missed Workington with a shoulder problem, to return the side.

There could also be a comeback for centre Steve Tyrer, who has missed the last two games through suspension.

“Danny will be available and Steve’s free to play again, so we’ll have to consider how to best utilise those two,” said Marshall, who said forwards Adam Tangata and Andy Bracek were both likely to keep their places in the side after solid efforts at Derwent Park.

Fax’s Tuesday night training session this week had a different look about it, with Marshall opening the doors to around a dozen of Calderdale’s amateur coaches.

“We had 10 or 12 guys come down from the local clubs, mainly open age coaches,” said Marshall.

“They watched the training session and sat in on the video review and I did a bit of a Q and A with them.

“It was good; I enjoyed it and hopefully they benefited from it as well.”