KEVIN Larroyer believes St Helens will visit a much different Halifax than the one they defeated to reach 2019’s Challenge Cup final.
A Halifax club and town determined to reclaim its status as a rugby league powerhouse.
This weekend is an exciting one for the West Yorkshire town. Tonight sees rugby league’s club world champions head to The Shay while Sunday sees its football side playing at Wembley for the FA Trophy.
But while he is French through and through, Larroyer believes the oval ball rules the roost and the club and Simon Grix’s Panthers are building towards showing they can live with the best, with homegrown players wanting to represent them.
He said: “In my first year here, we played in the semi-final. It’s my fifth now and how the club is structured now compared to then is totally different.
“The work over the last few years has been phenomenal and if we want to get where we want to be, full-time and in Super League, we need to show the town can provide a big attendance.
“That would be a statement to everyone that Halifax is a rugby league town. A good attendance is so important for us.
“And Simon has done a great job of making the club a bigger part of the town. He’s done that by getting Halifax-born players in, which is so important to us.
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“People who care about the club and are proud to wear the jersey, so when players come in from different places, they understand what it means to most.
“In a way, seeing the likes of Gareth Widdop, Jake Connor and Tyler Dupree do well elsewhere is frustrating but you can’t blame them.
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“However, I’m sure if the club keeps moving forward and challenges in the Championship or makes Super League, lots of Halifax-born players will want to be part of the adventure.”
Tonight promises the battle of Walmsley v Walmsley as Halifax’s Lachlan faces St Helens’ Alex.
But former French international Larroyer, who works for a company providing GPS systems to sports clubs, believes many of Grix’s side – young and old – should use this clash as a learning experience.
The 33-year-old added: “It’s a good challenge for players like me, who’ve played in Super League before, and also those who aspire to get there.
“We all have aspirations but sometimes you need to know where you’re at compared to where you want to be.
“The younger ones who want to get there won’t have a better test than facing St Helens. Welcoming the world champions is a good test for the club and the town.”
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