HALIFAX are aiming to spoil Andrew Henderson’s coronation as London Broncos coach tomorrow.
Henderson, the former Castleford Tigers and Sheffield Eagles hooker, joined London last autumn as assistant to Joey Grima and took over as caretaker coach when the Australian returned home earlier this month.
He was handed the role on a permanent basis this week and will be looking to protect an unbeaten Championship record at The Hive, but Halifax’s Richard Marshall believes his team are in good enough form to rain on Henderson’s parade.
Halifax were impressive 56-16 winners at Barrow in the Challenge Cup last week and Marshall said: “We’re pretty confident with our form.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for London, I think they’re a great club and have done some really good stuff in terms of development over the last few years.
“They’re going through a tough patch at the minute, but they’ll come out of that – I just hope it’s not this weekend.
“We rested a couple of players last week who will be coming into the squad so we’ve got a selection dilemma this week. We’re looking at building that momentum and form.”
Henderson is anticipating a testing first match as head coach.
“They are a good side with a big set of forwards who have got a bit of punch and a bit of an offload game,” he said of Halifax. “They have good outside-backs as well and Scott Murrell is an influential player. We’re under no illusions – it’s going to be a tough game.”
Keepmoat Stadium hosts a Championship double-header tomorrow, with Doncaster facing Batley Bulldogs before lodgers Sheffield Eagles meet Hunslet Hawks.
Doncaster are still without a league win this year and suffered a 40-12 defeat at League One side North Wales Crusaders in the Challenge Cup last weekend.
“The players are hurting,” said Paul Cooke, who was the Championship’s coach of the year in 2014 after guiding Doncaster to fourth spot in the table. It’s a bit like Groundhog Day on a Tuesday with regards to our reviews and what we’re talking about and the things we need to fix up.
“We’ve got to fix them up quickly, the players are aware of that.
“Discipline both with and without the ball is a bit of a problem for us at the minute.”
The next few matches could decide Doncaster’s fate this year, Cooke believes. He added: “Having moved Good Friday’s game against Sheffield to Wednesday evening so we have a longer recovery between the long journey to Whitehaven on Monday, our Easter starts here.
“We’ve got a big game against a very good Batley team and that’s all we’re focused on at the minute.
“I watched their game against Bradford and they were minutes away from beating the favourites for the competition so we’re going to have it all on.”
Batley’s John Kear, who coached Cooke at Hull and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, has warned his players against complacency.
“Last year some would say that Doncaster were the surprise package of the season,” he said. “Finishing fourth in the Championship was a heck of an achievement, but obviously their season hasn’t started yet. The danger for us is, it’s going to start at some stage and our challenge is to make sure it’s not this week.”
Sheffield could give a debut to second-row forward Oliver Roberts, who has joined them on a month’s loan from Huddersfield Giants. Coach Mark Aston said: “He is a player who I have had my eye on for some time. He will be an excellent addition to our squad.”
Hunslet are facing a tough spell which will see them take on Sheffield, Leigh and Halifax in the space of nine days.
“Sheffield have only had one defeat and are right up there,” coach Barry Eaton observed. “We know we’re going to be in for a tough battle, but we like a challenge.
“We hope we’ll be able to exploit some weaknesses in Sheffield’s game that will give us a chance.”
Bradford Bulls play host to Workington Town for the second successive week, after cruising to a 74-6 victory in the Challenge Cup fourth round.
Despite the margin of victory six days ago, Bradford coach James Lowes is looking for an improved showing from his side in the league rematch.
“We’re approaching the game in the same manner and hopefully we can produce a better performance than we did last week,” he said.
“We did some things that weren’t that good, I have to say, and we have focused on that more than anything this week.
“It wasn’t a good performance by any stretch of the imagination, so we’ll certainly be on our toes again for Sunday’s game.”