Marshall to pair Johnston and Moore at half back

editorial image

Halifax coach Richard Marshall will pair Gareth Moore and Ben Johnston together at half back for the first time in Sunday’s Championship contest with Leigh at the Shay (3.0).

With captain and regular stand off Scott Murrell ruled out through injury (see separate story), Marshall will turn to Moore, a close season recruit from Featherstone, and Johnston, whose appearances in 2016 have all been at full back, at the scrum base.

Experienced full back Miles Greenwood is also expected to start his first senior game after a year-long absence with a broken leg as Marshall is forced to reshuffle his line up..

“I would expect we’ll see Gareth and Ben together at half back, with Miles coming in as well,” said Marshall, who had not told his squad who would pick up Murrell’s captain’s armband as Courier Sport went to print.

“That combination will offer us more of a running threat with the ball, which we will need to use, and it will be exciting to see how they go.

“We’ll miss Scott’s leadership as much as his playing ability; the challenge for the other senior players is to take that role on and do the things that he does.”

There will also be a change at hooker, with Connor Robinson likely to deputise for Ben Kaye, who sat out almost all of last week’s reverse against London Broncos after being concussed.

That means there is no place - for now, at least - for young number nine Brandon Moore, although Marshall admitted the former Castleford player is unlikely to have to wait much longer for his debut.

“We’re likely to go with Connor this week, because of his ability to play half back,” said Marshall, who admitted there could also be a “few” further alterations to his line up.

“We’ve got an untried half back combination and Miles playing his first game at this level for a long time and Connor gives us options from the bench.

“He’s a clever, skilful player with a good kicking game and he’d bided his time.

“He had the option to go out on loan, but he chose to stay and wait for his chance.”

Leigh, pre-season title favourites, currently sit fourth in a league table that is still tightly packed, one win ahead of Fax.

The pre-season exit of coach Paul Rowley, rumours surrounding the futures of star players Rangi Chase and Ryan Brierley and a clutch of injuries, mean the exact nature of their line up is uncertain.

“Look, they’re a strong team with really good individuals, whoever plays,” said Marshall, who offered further insight into his team’s early-season struggles.

“It’s going to be a battle, but it’s the perfect game for us to get back to being the team we want to be.

“I’ve been in this kind of situation numerous times in my career and people always ask ‘What’s going wrong?’.

“But the truth is that if it was that simple and it was one thing going wrong, it would be easy to fix.

“Our errors and our discipline are hurting us at the moment and we need to be much better in both those areas this week.

“I’m sure we’ve got some players who are down on confidence, because they’re not playing as well as they want to be, but there’s only one way to fix things and that’s by working hard, which is what we’ve done this week.”