Halifax give a run to signings

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The Independent Online

Halifax will field all six of their close-season signings in today's friendly against Salford at The Shay. The Australian imports Robbie Beckett, Colum Halpenny and Dave Woods are joined in the new-look Blue Sox line-up by the loan signings Chris Birchall and Craig McDowell and the former St Helens and London Broncos stand-off Karle Hammond.

Salford will have the newcomers Alan Hunte and Darren Shaw on display in the first leg of the Colin Memorial match. The return fixture at the Willows is on 13 January.

Meanwhile, Halifax, who will be playing in their new all-black strip, have unveiled a 12-month shirt sponsorship with Wickes worth a five-figure sum.

Leeds will have their five new recruits in the side to play Castleford in a match certain to go ahead due to undersoil heating at Headingley.

The Australian duo Ben Walker and Matt Adamson are the main attractions, while the Tigers will give a late fitness test to the new signing Kyle Warren. His Fellow Australian star Wayne Bartrim will definitely play, as will the former Wakefield forward Ryan Hudson and the ex-London utility player Andy Johnson.

But the Tigers will be without Mark Lennon, Lee Harland, Dean Sampson, Barrie-Jon Mather and Danny Orr, who are all still recovering from injury, while Mitch Healey and Dale Fritz have yet to return from Australia.

The Former Castleford captain Adrian Vowles, who will line up against his old team-mates, having switched to Leeds in the close season, said: "It was going to happen sooner or later. I'm just glad it's at Headingley.

"I had some great times at Castleford and I left on good terms but I am a Leeds player now. There is a good attitude here and the players are looking forward to getting out and playing a game as opposed to working in the gym or on the track."

In other Boxing Day friendlies, the Super League newcomers, Widnes Vikings, flex their muscles against neighbours Warrington at the Auto Quest Stadium and a big crowd is expected for the Humberside derby between Hull and Hull KR at Craven Park.

Widnes have signed the former St Helens prop Julian O'Neill from Wakefield Trinity Wildcats. O'Neill, who becomes the Vikings' 12th close-season signing, has agreed a two-year deal and will make his debut against Warrington today.

The Widnes coach Neil Kelly said: "Julian is a vastly experienced Super League forward who will considerably strengthen our squad. He is a powerful forward who never shirks work."