St Helens’ former Halifax coach Richard Marshall has conceded his four-and-a-half-season tenure at the Shay had nearly ‘run its course’ by the time he left the club in April.
Marshall, who will coach against his former charges in Saturday’s Challenge Cup semi final at Bolton (4.0), was effectively axed by the club after a rocky start to the Championship season.
The former Warrington assistant coach, who began his professional career with Fax as a 16 year old front rower, then walked straight into a new role as right hand man to Saints’ highly-rated Australian boss Justin Holbrook.
“Everything runs its course in sport, that’s the natural order of things,” said Marshall, who was still at the helm when Fax kick started their run to the last four of the competition with a shock 24-16 win over Super League outfit London Broncos in the spring.
“I certainly didn’t want it to end in the way that it did, because I think we did a reasonable job over four and a half years and I’d have still backed my ability to coach the club into the play offs this season.
“When you’ve been in a long term relationship with a club, like I’d been with Halifax, it does hurt when it ends.
“But when I look back now I think it was getting to the point where I was ready to move on and, honestly, I don’t know whether I’d have renewed my contract, even if that had been on the table.
“The club decided they wanted to go in a different direction and in Simon (Grix) they’ve got a smart operator who has all the attributes needed to be a really good leader for Halifax over the next few years.
“Simon’s young and he’s going to make mistakes, but he’s clever enough to learn from them and I think he’s a good fit; he’s a young, local coach who’s passionate about the job.
“I’ve been lucky enough to come to St Helens and they’ve welcomed me with open arms.
“It’s been an outstanding experience so far with a club that’s obviously right at the top of the competition.”
Saints, who are likely to be at full strength - with hooker James Roby set for a return from a six-week injury absence - are unbackable favourites for Saturday’s game.
But Marshall had words of advice for both his current and former charges.
“It’s going to be an emotional week, because I’ve been watching Halifax games - basically my team - and looking at weaknesses we can exploit with the ball,” he said.
“They’ve obviously been having a tough time recently, but I honestly expect them to turn up on Saturday and play better, as individuals and a team, than they have done all season.
“From a St Helens perspective, we’ll respect the Halifax lads and we know they’ll be coming there to do a job having been at work all week.
“We’ll be bringing the best team we possibly can and I don’t think Simon and his players would want it any other way.
“As players and coaches, they will want to test themselves against the best.”