Super 8s Qualifiers: Fax close to full strength for clash with Dragons

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Halifax coach Richard Marshall is facing some “difficult” selection decisions ahead of Sunday’s Super 8s Qualifiers date with top flight Catalans Dragons at the Shay (3.0).

After months of wrestling with a succession of injury crises, Marshall has watched the treatment room empty this week, with only the young centre James Woodburn-Hall - who damaged his ankle against Warrington a fortnight ago - ruled out for the clash with Steve McNamara’s star-studded side.

That means Marshall will add threequarter Ben Heaton and key forwards Adam Tangata and Mitch Cahalane to the mix that went down fighting against the Wolves, along with young Castleford forward Brandon Douglas.

Throw in the back-from-suspension full back Will Sharp and a selection famine has turned into an unexpected feast.

“We’re good, we’ve some options again and there are going to be some disappointed players this weekend,” said Marshall, who confirmed that youngster Chester Butler, who scored two tries against the Wolves, was likely to keep his place.

“Everyone trained very well on Tuesday and we’ll finalise things at the end of the week.

“Chester will be in there somewhere; it’s hard to drop someone who scores two tries and gets the Man of the Match award.

“It’s a testament to the medical staff, and the hard work of the players, that we’re in this position with four, possibly five, games to go.

“Adam and Mitch have done fantastically well; Adam should have been gone for the season really, but he’s worked his way back.”

Fax were disappointed with their last home performance against Widnes, with the Vikings moving into a 26-0 lead before their hosts really got going.

Marshall is optimistic they can improve on that effort, but was quick to emphasise the enormity of their task.

“We’re a part time Championship team playing against a very talented Catalans side,” he said.

“They’ve got some world class players - Greg Bird is in fantastic form - and they’ve an excellent coach in Steve McNamara.

“The reality is that we probably need to have 17 players at 95 per cent of their form and hope they probably only have four or five players at that level.

“We’re confident in what we can do defensively, but we need to cut out the errors and penalties, because that was what got us at Warrington, making 400 tackles against a full time team.

“We think we’ve seen some things in their game we can exploit, but the question is whether we can execute our plays under pressure.

“We’ve trained well though, so we’ll see.”