Halifax head coach Richard Marshall says the fact Widnes Vikings’ Danny Craven was a star man while on loan with them points at just how much ground the Championship club have to make up on their Super League opponents in tomorrow’s Qualifiers opener.
The West Yorkshire outfit are admittedly on a nine-match winning run as they prepare to cause a shock in the seven-game campaign that now awaits them.
Widnes, the competition’s highest-ranked side have finished ninth in Super League, arrive at The Shay to face part-timers Halifax.
“They’ve a world class player in Kevin Brown,” said Marshall, about the former Huddersfield Giants captain and England stand-off.
“To put it into perspective, Danny Craven, who was outstanding for us when he was here on loan, will probably struggle to make Widnes’s side this week because of the players they have available.
“In my opinion, they’re the best team in the Qualifiers; they’ve beaten Warrington and a few other top sides during the year and their league position reflects that.
“We’ve watched their recent games and they do have weaknesses and they do make some mistakes, which is probably why they are where they are in comparison to teams like Leeds and St Helens, who make fewer.
“But you do have to look very carefully and go over things with a fine tooth comb to find those little weaknesses, whereas in the Championship – and this is no disrespect to any of the Championship teams – those areas are generally a lot more obvious.”
Marshall is using the experience gained as Warrington’s long-time assistant coach in Super League to get his current side in the right state to face Widnes.
“It’s been a challenge for me getting back up to speed with that degree of preparation,” he admitted. “I coached at that level for six years so I know how teams play.
“We know they’re going to be bigger and stronger and faster than we are, so we have to try and start fast and maintain that, because Widnes will.
“But we’ve achieved what we set out to achieve already, which was to finish top four in the Championship. Anything else is a bonus.”
Halifax see prop Luke Ambler and back-row Ross Divorty are back in contention for returns from injury.
Widnes have included their new signing Charly Runciman, the 22-year-old Australian centre who has joined from NRL club St George Illawarra.