Halifax coach Richard Marshall has acknowledged that his team have not hit the heights this season, but have still shown signs of steady and positive progress.
Fax finished in sixth place in the table, three points behind Featherstone Rovers in fourth, and one behind Bradford in fifth.
Although they will not be contesting the Qualifiers this season, Marshall thinks that the club is developing nicely away from the first team.
“We’ve probably not made the progress we would have liked,” he told Love Rugby League.
“We would have liked to be back in the top four, if we’re being honest.
“The competition is far stronger this year than it was last year, in my opinion.
“A lot of the teams who struggled this year have upped their game this year.
“We haven’t been of the required standard for long enough periods.
“We’ve had some great performances this year, but we’ve not been consistent enough and we don’t deserve to be in the top four.
“But we’ve got a reserve grade set-up that we’re proud of.
“We’ve got some good juniors coming through the ranks, and we’ll be able to expose them to the rigours of the Championship over the next few weeks.”
But Halifax are determined to do as well as possible in the Shield competition, which Marshall believes has some quality teams in it.
“The reality is that there is a competition we want to improve in, and there’s a trophy at the end of it,” he said.
“That’s motivation for the club, with the finances that go along with that.
“We need to make up ground quickly. We’d love to make the final of this, and finish as high up the league as we possibly can.
“You’d say Bradford are the favourites, with their full-time and Super League pedigree.
“They’ll be wanting to finish their season on a high.
“Sheffield have improved through the last third of the season. Everyone else is fighting for their lives in terms of the competition.
“We’ve just got to look after ourselves. We’ve got to improve over the next eight games, basically.”
As for aims in 2017, Marshall wants Halifax to continue to develop its wider infrastructure, its youth set-up, and for the first team to feature more homegrown talent.
“We need to build the club in terms of what goes on off-field,” he explained.
“We’ve strengthened the IT department, we’ve improved the coaching side, we’ve got more staff members, a new media guy.
“We need to improve on all that again next year.
“On the field we need to improve our reserve grade and get more of those players playing first grade for Halifax – otherwise there’s no point in having one.
“I think we’re the only Championship club now who’ve invested in that area, and we aim to continue to do that.
“It’s important for our future.
“The decision not to go full-time, in hindsight, was a good decision. If you look at Sheffield, things haven’t gone quite right for them.
“Everything you do has got to be sustainable. That’s what we’re about.
“We didn’t spend all our money last year. We’ve invested in reserve grade – that’s getting up to a six-figure sum too, which is a weighty investment for a Championship club, with all the coaching staff, doctors and everything else that goes along with it.
“It doubles the cost in terms of training. It’s a fair chunk of our money, but well worth it, in my opinion.”