Places up for grabs as Fax try to beat the freeze

Karl Harrison has said there are up to seven places in his side for the Championship opener with Sheffield up for grabs in Sunday’s final tune-up at Batley (2.0).

Fax’s date with the Bulldogs, originally scheduled for the Shay, was switched to Mount Pleasant on Tuesday in an attempt to avert a near-certain postponement after this week’s freezing weather.

Batley officials reported the pitch as playable midweek, but will hold a formal inspection tomorrow, with Tuesday night already set aside as a fall-back date should that fail.

“We just want to get the game on, and it doesn’t matter where we play it,” said Fax boss Harrison, who is already counting down to the televised opener against Mark Aston’s Grand Final winners on Thursday, January 31.

“We’ve got players who haven’t had a game yet who need to play and there are other people who need a decent performance to force their way into the frame for the Sheffield game.

“There are a few places still open for that game, probably six or seven.

“I think there’s an issue at full back, between Ryan Fieldhouse and Rikki Sheriffe, which will have a knock on effect on the wings, and there are certainly spots in the back row and on the bench.

“There is a lot at stake this weekend for everyone.

“We always said we would pick teams on form and that’s how it is going to be.”

Winger Rob Worrincy should make his first start of pre-season after missing the games at Keighley and Dewsbury, while Harrison reported that three of his long-term absentees, who are all recovering from surgery, were getting close to a return.

Prop Tony Tonks (arm), centre Mick Nanyn (knee, see separate story) and utility back Anthony Bowman (shoulder) are all training.

“Tonks has done some semi-contact work, but this weekend is probably still a little too soon for him,” said Harrison.

“Bowman is closer than anyone expected. He did contact last week and came through okay and he wants to get out there.

“He might still be another week away, but we’ll look at him again before the weekend.

“Mick’s been a bit unlucky.”