Finn and Grix back on home turf with Halifax Panthers

THERE is a nice symmetry around Liam Finn starting his coaching career in earnest alongside Scott Grix at Halifax Panthers.

Liam Finn. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

The duo, who both retired from playing at the end of last season, were announced as part of the Championship club’s new set-up earlier this week.

Head coach Simon Grix has appointed Finn as his assistant and his own elder brother as Halifax’s strength and conditioning coach.

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Finn, 38, and Grix, 37, started out their playing careers in the same junior side at Siddal in their hometown of Halifax.

They also went on to represent Ireland together as well as spend the 2017 and 2018 campaigns in the same Wakefield Trinity side.

“It’s all good; I’m working with two lads that I played with and am mates with as well,” Finn told The Yorkshire Post last night, having also briefly played alongside Simon Grix for Halifax when the West Yorkshire club was last in Super League in 2003.

“They were smart players and Simon is now obviously doing well as a coach and Scott is making his way as a conditioner which is great.

“Me and Scott played together as kids at Siddal and in the academy at Halifax as well.

Halifax Panthers trio Liam Finn, Simon Grix and Scott Grix.

“We’ve been together on and off at various places since we were 14 or 15.”

He added: “When we were at Wakefield it was just easy as, even though we’d not played with each other consistently for 10 years or so, it was just really easy to fall back into it.

“And it’s nice to be together again now at our hometown club of Halifax.

“We started (training) on Tuesday and I’m looking forward to going in tonight as well – and for what’s to come.”

As an intelligent half-back, with fine kicking ability and great game-management skills, Finn has always been a deep thinker on rugby league and long thought about heading into coaching.

He knows the Championship inside and out, too, having spent the best part of a decade there with Featherstone Rovers and Dewsbury Rams before getting his second belated stab at Super League with Castleford Tigers at the age of 30.

Finn, who spent the last three years of his career back at Dewsbury, recalled: “When I was playing at Wakefield, I volunteered to help out with the Academy and did that for four or five years.

“But when I finished Super League and went to play at Newcastle Thunder, there was a coaching job at Wakefield with the academy and the first team as well so I did a few years in total at Trinity.

“I always wanted to coach and I made sure I got my Level Three well before I finished playing.

“I used to coach a little bit at Siddal when I was younger but I was part-time and working and it became too much so I just helped out with the second team there,” he added.

“I got started at Wakefield but once Covid struck, there was no budget for two assistants there and no job.

“I just thought I’d have a break from it all – at Dewsbury I’ve just been playing – and, like anything, you don’t actually know if you’ll fancy it or not until somebody rings you and wants you.”

Simon Grix did ring after his No 2 Rikki Sheriffe left and Finn certainly fancied the chance to join the club he supported as a boy and who defied the odds to finish third last season.

As Halifax’s squad started their pre-season preparations, the former Ireland captain maintained he is not missing playing.

Finn insisted: “Emotionally I’m fine. I was ready to finish.

“I got as much as I could out of myself playing-wise. I knew I was ready (to retire).

“But I am envious of them training together and I’m having to go to the gym on my own!

“Other than that, though, I am just enjoying being on the other side of it all now and watching the lads putting the hard yards in ready for the new season.”

Given the quality of their recruitment, Halifax fans are rightly cheered ahead of 2022.

This week they added hooker Kyle Wood – a former Trinity team-mate of Finn and Grix’s – to their squad having already secured Wakefield centre Joe Arundel, Australian winger Lachlan Walmsley and Hull KR half-back Joe Keyes plus ex-Castleford Tigers stand-off Cory Aston among others.

“The squad that Si has put together looks really strong on paper,” said Finn.

“There’s some good lads and talented players but we’ve got to make sure we do our job and they put in the hard work so we can give them the tools to really attack the season.

“We’re trying to make it clear that, as long as we work hard, who knows what we can achieve?

“Improving on last season is the first target but, on top of that, we need to hit the ground running and see how we travel.”

You sense Halifax are in safe hands for the journey ahead.