Skipper Murrell given half a chance of facing Eagles

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Halifax captain Scott Murrell has a “better than 50/50” chance of making the cut for tonight’s top-of-the-table Championship showdown against Sheffield at Bramall Lane.

That was the verdict of Fax boss Karl Harrison as he prepared his league leaders for the trip to the Steel City.

Playmaker Murrell has missed the last two - the knockout losses to the Eagles and Dewsbury - with a hamstring tear and Harrison will leave the final decision on whether to play or not with the former Leeds and Hull KR ace.

“I would say Scott’s got a better than 50/50 chance now,” said the former Test forward, whose side warmed up with an opposed training session against National Conference amateurs Siddal on Tuesday night.

“We’ve wrapped him in cotton wool over the last fortnight and we’ll him as long as he needs.

“He’s certainly improving, but if there is any doubt he won’t play.

“I would rather he missed another week than another 10, because while everyone recognises this is a massive game the success of our season is not going to be decided at Sheffield.”

But whether Murrell plays or not, Harrison is adamant that another on-field general, the veteran Paul Handforth, will return to the hooking role after a mixed fortnight back at the scrum base.

“Handforth will be the hooker, whatever happens,” he confirmed.

“He was playing exceptionally well there until Murrell got injured and he’s not been as effective since he went back in the halves.

“If Murrell doesn’t play we’ll have to look at other options in the halves; perhaps putting someone like Callum Casey alongside Anthony Thackeray.”

Victory over the Eagles would extend Fax’s lead over second-placed Featherstone to six points, although Rovers have played a game less.

More importantly, it would signal a return to form after three defeats in four games.

“We are halfway through the season and the table tells you we’ve been the best team over the first half,” said Harrison.

“We’re experiencing a bit of a blip and we’ve got some issues with injuries, but we’ve a resilient bunch of players and I know they’ll come through the other side.

“We’ve not been great the last two weeks but by the same token we could still have won both games.

“I’ve raised my voice this week and there have been some honest discussions, but that’s only because I care about the club and the players we have here.”