HALIFAX vice-captain Paul Handforth has pledged to give young stand off Anthony Bowman free-rein in attack in tomorrow’s Northern Rail Cup opener at Dewsbury (3.0).
Bowman, the former Siddal junior, is a surprise starter at the scrum base against the Rams, with close-season recruit Anthony Thackeray warming the bench.
And Handforth, the 29 year old former Wakefield, Castleford and Batley playmaker, said he will do everything he can to allow Bowman to make the most of his chance.
“I think Anthony is a kid with a lot of potential,” said Handforth, who formed an impressive partnership with Bowman in the first half of the pre-season win over Huddersfield a fortnight ago.
“He’s done a lot of work with myself and Thacks over the winter and he’s getting better and better every week.
“He likes to attack the line, to take the defence on, and I’ll concentrate on getting the team around the field tomorrow and let him focus on that.
“It can be difficult when you’re a young lad, trying to organise a team full of experienced players.
“When I first broke through at Wakefield, I had Brad Davis there with me and he just let me play my own game.
“That’s what I’ll try to do with Anthony; when he says he wants the ball, I’ll try to get it to him.”
Handforth believes Fax are ready to get their season off to a winning start, confirming a change in atmosphere at practice this week.
“There’s been an extra buzz, definitely,” he said.
“It’s a real game, not a friendly, with something real at stake for us.
“We’ve been working since the beginning of November, doing all the hard work, and everyone’s ready to play now.”
Dewsbury are confident tomorrow’s game will go ahead, despite this week’s freezing weather.
The Rams Stadium pitch was rated as unplayable yesterday, but temperatures are forecast to rise significantly overnight tonight.
“We’ll look at it again in the morning and call out the match officials if there is any doubt,” said a Rams official.
“But at the moment we expect it to be on.”
Match preview - page 29