Halifax have signed Wakefield Trinity’s Samoan international Michael Sio on a month’s loan, with an option to extend the deal until the end of the season.
Sio, who can play loose forward, back row, half back or hooker, has provided Halifax coach Richard Marshall and his “busted” squad with a rare filip ahead of Saturday night’s pivotal Championship contest in Toulouse (6.30).
The former New Zealand Warriors player trained with his new teammates for the first time on Thursday night and seems certain to figure in France this weekend.
“We’ve been looking to add to the squad, but it’s always been about finding the right player,” said Marshall.
“Michael’s an experienced Super League player who can play in a number of positions.
“I think he will really complement what we do, playing in a similar role to Simon Grix.”
As well as Sio’s arrival, Fax will also have Cook Islands international Adam Tangata back on deck in Toulouse.
Tangata, heavily linked with Wakefield for 2018, has been absent for several weeks, but was clearly nearing full fitness as he thundered down the sideline under the watchful eye of conditioner Andy Holleyhead following last weekend’s derby win over Bradford.
Fax head to France level on points with their hosts, who have already beaten them twice this season, knowing that a win would breathe real life into a top four challenge that has faltered at crucial moments this year.
Marshall’s preparations have been hampered by an ever-increasing injury list - which meant Tuesday night’s training session was devoted to analysis of Toulouse rather than a field session - and the probable absence of dual-registration reinforcements from Salford, who provided four players of the 17 that beat the Bulls.
“We’re busted, we really are,” said Marshall, who saw Ben Heaton, Ed Barber, Shane Grady, Simon Grix join the crocks - which already includes key men Jacob Fairbank, James Saltonstall and Ben Johnston - last weekend.
“We couldn’t train as we wanted to on Tuesday, we just didn’t have the bodies.
“Adam will be fit, which is massive for us because he’s an outstanding player, but we won’t know on the others until very late in the day.
“I’m not sure how many of them, if any, will make it and there are going to be some last minute decisions made.
“I’m sure they’ll all turn up on Thursday night and tell me they’re ready, but we need energy and fitness this weekend, so we can’t risk people breaking down.
“It’s a big, big game for both clubs, but they always are at this time of year.
“But I think we’re more excited about it than apprehensive, which is a good sign for us; I think there’s been a bit of a change in our mindset.
“They’re a very, very good team with some very good players.
“Mark Kheirallah, the full back, really did some damage against us at the Summer Bash and we’ll be doing some homework on him to try and combat that threat.
“Look, our preparation is going to be a long way from being ideal, but we’re going to go there and give it our best shot.”