This time last year, Halifax were under a new regime with former Warrington assistant coach Richard Marshall taking over from Karl Harrison.
It was hard to judge how well they’d do in Marshall’s debut season, especially when you consider he couldn’t do too much work in terms of recruitment as the majority of the players were bought by Harrison.
However, it turned out to be an amazing year for the West Yorkshire club as they finished fourth and then entertained everyone in the Qualifiers, where they came sixth.
The free-flowing brand of rugby, as well as the very good team spirit, drew a lot of neutral fans towards Halifax and they’ll be hoping to produce similar results in 2016.
Youngsters have also been bought, in the shape of Brandon Moore from Castleford Tigers and Chester Butler from local side Siddal. Marshall expressed his trust in young players during the 2015 season so both Butler and Moore have come to the right place to improve their game.
There’s not been many outgoings either so the same group of players are at the club and will be striving to go one step further than they did last year.
In the halves, which have now been improved with the aforementioned signing of Gareth Moore, Ireland international Ben Johnston, who played a fair share of games at fullback, proved to be a tricky customer while Scott Murrell’s experience helped the more youthful players on the pitch.
The three-quarters came to life during the backend of the season as Steve Tyrer constantly showed that passion you love to see from one of your players. Ben Heaton, James Saltonstall and Gareth Potts all played a vital part in a Fax side who very much silenced their critics.
Last year’s work on the pitch was terrific and it’s now being replicated off of it. The creation of a reserves team could prove to be gold dust for Halifax as they produce their own players and slowly blood them into a confident first-team.
2016 will be the first year for those young players to show their worth, and while they may be playing outside of Halifax (at Huddersfield YMCA), it gives supporters a chance to watch the future of their club and be confident about what’s to come too.
While the attention of many goes towards the four full-time clubs in the Championship this season, Halifax will be quietly going about their business and not worrying about any side in the division.
A top four finish will be the aim once again and, with the improvements that have been made, there’s absolutely no reason why they can’t aim for higher than the fourth place they finished in last season.