Halifax coach Richard Marshall will patch up his players for one last time in 2017 when they host Featherstone in the Super 8s Qualifiers at the Shay on Sunday (3.0).
If Fax win this weekend, they will leapfrog Rovers into seventh spot, sparing themselves the ignominy of finishing bottom of the pile, securing an extra £50K in prize money and the unofficial title of the best part time team in rugby league.
“It’s a £50K game, a one off; like a Cup game or a Grand Final,” said Marshall, who has fitness doubts over a clutch of key players.
“Look, if we do not win we’ve still had a great season, making the top four in adversity and getting ourselves into the Qualifiers in the first place.
“But personally I’m not going to be happy if we finish eighth; I don’t think the players deserve that after all they’ve done this year.
“We’ve got people who will be playing their last game for the club on Sunday - definitely Mitch Cahalane, maybe a couple more as well - and we want to send them out on a high.
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“To be the best part time team is a label we’d like and we’ve not really done a good job on Featherstone at home in the last few years, so we’d like to change that.”
The last time the sides met, Fax produced a remarkable performance to win 28-8 at Post Office Road, dragging themselves closer to a top four spot and signalling the end of Rovers’ coach Jon Sharp, who was replaced by the former Swinton boss John Duffy the next day.
“If we can come anywhere near that level again, I’ll be very confident,” said Marshall.
“They’re playing a bit straighter now than they were, but they’re not doing those big shifts across the field like Swinton were doing under John; it takes time to put those things in place.
“The threats are still the same; Keal Carlile at hooker, Misi Taulapapa when he carries the ball and Anthony Thackeray going at the line.”
Fax’s own resources have been stretched to breaking point in recent weeks, with Marshall blaming the intensity of playing against full time teams - Sunday’s game will be Fax’s first against another part time team since the last time they met Rovers in mid July - for a lengthening casualty list.
“We’ve got seven or eight players who are very doubtful,” said Marshall, although key pair Simon Grix and Scott Murrell will both be back after missing last Friday’s loss at Leigh.
“We’ve had a few shoulder injuries across the squad and that’s down to the nature of the collisions when you’re playing full time players.
“The Catalans game three weeks ago ruined us and had an impact on how we played at London and Leigh.
“But this is the last big effort and the players are ready for it.”
Marshall and hooker Brandon Moore both missed out on awards at the Championship dinner on Monday night; the Coach of the Year crown going to London’s Andrew Henderson and Bradford back rower James Bentley picking up the Young Player title.
“It would have been nice, but we’ve no complaints,” said Marshall. “For Brandon, it was fantastic to see him nominated and highlights what a good player he is. When you remember he missed the start of the year through injury, he did enough to be nominated on the back of two thirds of a season.”