Halifax coach Richard Marshall has ticked all the boxes so far in his plan to take the club forward, and is confident that Fax can become full-time soon.
The club were one of last season’s Championship success stories, reaching the Qualifiers section of the Super 8s, and acquitting themselves well.
Marshall feels the experience of the ‘Middle Eights’ added another layer of development to his squad.
“It ticked every box for me, coming in last year,” he told Love Rugby League.
“We’re in a stronger position now, 12 months down the line, than where we were sat last year.
“I know the team. I know what they’re capable of, I know their limitations too.
“But we’ve added to that with quality signings and improved.
“Our plan was to meet the criteria of reaching the top four, and we did that.
“I wanted to get a reserve grade in the second year of coaching, and we’ve done that.
“In the third year, we’re hopeful that we can get sufficient funding to go full-time.
“Whether that’s next year, or the year after, and leads to Super League, I don’t yet know.
“But my three-year plan was to get in the top four, get a reserve grade and get the team full-time.
“So we’re on track, and I’ll only know by the end of the year whether we reach our prime objective, which is to get a full-time team back in Halifax.”
Halifax also benefitted from testing themselves against Super League opposition in the Qualifiers.
“We noticed the intensity was different,” he said.
“The Championship is tough, it’s a tough league and there’s a lot of good teams in there.
“But the intensity of playing Widnes, Hull KR and Salford was a different level.
“So we took a while to get to grips with that. We spoke about being very good against the teams from our league that we knew about, and chancing our arm against the other ones.
“We played Widnes first up, and were 0-0 with 40 minutes gone – there was nothing in it, and we probably shocked ourselves a little bit.
“So those experiences can only benefit us this year. We’ve had a taste of it, and we want a little bit more.
“We know it’s going to be difficult, getting back into the top four.
“But we know that the rewards for playing well and consistently at that level are far greater than in the Championship.”
Marshall is fully behind the concept of the Super 8s, as it exposes his team to the kind of testing situations that only Super League teams can provide.
He does think the transfer deadline needs to be tweaked, though, to make things fairier.
“I think because the Super League teams are playing at a different level every week, their general levels are higher,” he explained.
“Fitness, skill, strength are higher, certainly against us as a part-time team.
“I’m sure Leigh and Bradford weren’t as far away because they’re full-time.
“So it wasn’t a level playing field, but we quite like that.
“We like the tag of going in there and trying our best against these. Why not?
“We weren’t as skilful, and we couldn’t sustain it for as large periods, but we did against the Championship teams, and that’s what we can take out of that.
“I think it’s a great concept,”
“Maybe the rush to sign players come late August needs to be looked at, but apart from that, it’s a good concept.”