BRIGHT SPARK Ben Kaye has spent this week helping build Emerald Headingley’s South Stand, but on Sunday he’ll be aiming to knock down Leeds Rhinos.
The Halifax hooker is an electrician and part of the crew fitting out the new facilities at Headingley, having worked on the demolition of the old South Stand a year ago.
He began his playing career with Leeds and made five appearances in 2008 including a hat-trick on his debut against Harlequins. After spells with London and Featherstone Rovers, he joined Halifax in 2014.
Sunday’s home Qualifiers fixture will be a rare opportunity to face his former club and Kaye joked: “I’m still working on Headingley, so I am trying to do a bit of espionage!
“I’ve been doing the wiring in the changing rooms. It’s a good job and it’s going to be a great stadium.”
The work has kept Kaye in touch with former team-mates, including Jamie Jones-Buchanan.
“There’s a few familiar faces I’ve played with and against,” he said. “I have a good laugh with the ground staff. They say 10 years ago you were playing on it and now you’re wiring it, it’s all in good fun.”
Fittingly, Sunday will be Kaye’s 250th career appearance. He said: “It’s a good achievement, especially against my old club. It is a nice way to mark it.”
Alongside Scott Murrell, Kaye is one of two former Leeds players in Halifax’s squad. “Me and Scott were talking about it and it’s our Grand Final,” he said.
“To play our hometown team, where we did our apprenticeship, is massive for us. It is a privilege to play Leeds, it’s horrible to see them in this situation, but nice to play against them.
“They need to win, they are playing for survival in Super League and their status as players. They should not be in the middle-eights with the calibre of players they’ve got there. It will be a tough one, there’s a lot on the line for them.
“For us, our goal was to compete against the big teams. We knew it was going to be tough against Salford and Leeds, who are the top seeds, but we thought we would get two points out of Widnes.
“That [a 26-12 defeat last Saturday] was a shame. Lack of big-game experience cost us, we weren’t really getting in the arm wrestle. When we did it worked for us, but we weren’t in it long enough.”
Kaye added: “At Hull KR, another 10 minutes and it could have been a different result and after the Toronto game we were kicking ourselves because we could have picked up two points there.
“The only game that’s let us down was against Salford. They blew us away, but Leeds can’t come into it underestimating us, especially at home.
“There’s a lot of vibe around the town, the commercial side are really pushing it and there’s going to be a good crowd. We prepare for every game the same, but there will be a bit of shine on this one.
“It is the Super League champions coming to our pitch. They have got to get a result and that makes it all more interesting.”