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Honor James

Championship Preview

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Halifax v Sheffield Eagles (Thursday January 31, 7.30pm)

Halifax coach Karl Harrison insists his squad is ready for Thursday's Championship kick off against champions Sheffield Eagles. Harrison's men host last year's Grand Final winners in front of the television cameras, seven days after drawing 18-18 with Batley Bulldogs in their last pre-season friendly.

Harrison said: "It's a big challenge. It's the first game of the season and both teams will be ready and up for it. We've been weather affected and we're maybe a bit behind where we'd like to be, but we're looking forward to getting going now. We've trained ever so well this week."

On Sheffield, Harrison said: "They've had a stable squad for the last few years, built on a big forward pack and few Islanders who can make things happen. They're a very dangerous team, both in the middle and on the fringe, and we'll be tested defensively right across our line."

Long-term injury absentees Mick Nanyn and Iain Morrison are Harrison's only unavailable players.

Eagles travel without Joe Hirst (broken hand), but could include Quentin Laulu-Togagae, who has made a quick recovery from knee surgery last month.

Sheffield coach Mark Aston said: "We planted the flag last year and now it's time to back it up. It's going to be tough, because there are a lot of quality teams and there are more games. There'll be a lot of teams trying to knock you off. We enjoyed winning the Grand Final and pre-season has been great, but it's back to business now."

-ends-

Hannah Molloy

Media Assistant

Edited by Honor James

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