Halifax coach Richard Marshall has named a youthful squad for his side’s pre-season opener at Bradford on Boxing day (3.0), emphasising the “opportunity” the game presents for some untried talent.
Fax will field a spine of battle-hardened Championship professionals, with James Woodburn-Hall starting at full back, Ben Johnston at half back, Brandon Moore at hooker and Jacob Fairbank captaining the side at loose forward.
But Marshall will take the chance to look at a raft of young talent against Fax’s League 1 neighbours, who will be playing their first fixture under the guidance of new boss John Kear.
Teenager Morgan Punchard will start at stand off, while Welsh trio Sion Jones and Curtis and Connor Davies will all feature at some stage in what is likely to be a 20-man squad.
There are also debuts for two youngsters with professional experience; former King Cross half back Adam Brook, who has arrived at his hometown club via the Bulls and Keighley, and former Wakefield back Kian Morgan, who has caught Marshall’s eye after being invited to train with Fax’s senior side.
“We need to see everyone play now,” said Marshall.
“They’ve all trained well and worked hard, so they’ve earned an opportunity on the field.
“That’s what this game is about for them now, taking that opportunity, and I expect at least some of them to do that.
“I’d probably be surprised if someone didn’t emerge and give us something to think about in the weeks ahead.
“There are questions we need answering too; can James Woodburn-Hall challenge Will Sharp at full back? Can young Morgan control a game for us at half back?
“Adam and Kian have come to us after being with other clubs and they could both have something to offer in positions where we can use the competition.
“I’m excited to see a Halifax team on the field again.”
Marshall and his coaching team spent Tuesday this week with dual registration partners Castleford, watching the Tigers - who ran away with the Super League League Leaders’ crown this year - train before sitting down head coach Daryl Powell.
“We had a good day over there and I think we all came away quite enthused,” said Marshall.
“You can see why they’re the best team; the intensity and quality of their training reflects that.
“We watched the session and then sat down for a coffee with Daryl and talked over a few things.
“It’s a great environment that he’s created there and I think as coaches we certainly learnt something, even in such a short space of time.
“It’s certainly something we’re planning to repeat.”
Halifax (from): Woodburn-Hall, Heaton, Syme, Butler, McGrath, Punchard, Johnston, Jack Fairbank, Moore, F. Morris, Calcott, Connor Davies, Jacob Fairbank, Jones, Curtis Davies, Dewhirst, Brook, Morgan, Cullimore, Stringer