Halifax kick off their Championship campaign at home to Featherstone tomorrow and coach Richard Marshall is under no illusions by the challenge that awaits them.
Rovers finished fourth last season, securing a place in the Middle 8s but failed to pick up a single point and lost seven matches in a row.
“Featherstone are a strong team with a strong squad,” Marshall told Love Rugby League.
“I know Halifax haven’t beaten Featherstone at home for a number of years.
“We’re probably the underdogs if I’m being honest.”
Being at The Shay to kick off 2017 is certainly something Marshall thinks should be capitalized on.
“It is a great opportunity to get the crowd on side straight away and try to create a bit of a fortress this year,” he said.
“We’re a good team at home, our supporters are fantastic and we want to reward them.
“If we can do that first game it will do us the world of good.”
When asked about his aspirations for the season ahead Marshall admitted he wanted to finish in the top four – the West Yorkshire club secured sixth place last time out.
“I’d like to put ourselves in a position where we can actually make an assault for the top four,” he said.
“We want to compete every week and we didn’t do that last year.”
“Hull KR are probably head and shoulders,” he said.
“Then you’ve got London, Featherstone, Batley and Dewsbury.”
“Shane from Dewsbury has been really good he’s an experienced player,” he said.
“Rob Worrincy from Sheffield is a prolific try scorer and a great finisher.
“He’s already passed on his experienced to some of the younger outside backs so I’m really happy with that.”
Since taking over as head coach prior to the 2015 season the establishment of a reserve grade set up has been the most significant change Marshall has overseen.
“I think implementing the reserve grade is the biggest benefactor for the club,” he said.
“It’s still the majority of players Karl Harrison had we feel we’ve just added a bit more quality.”
Marshall, who picked up the award for Championship Coach of the Year during his first season, thinks reserve grade will soon be commonplace amongst all clubs.
“I think next year we’ll see more Super League teams buying into it,” he said.
“By the end of 2020 I think everybody will have them.”