Championship boss reflects on division’s star signings ahead of playoff push campaign

Barrow Raiders impressed and shocked a lot of the sides in the Championship during their 2022 campaign as they managed a strong fourth placed finish in their first season back in the division.

Promoted from League One during the 2021 season the Raiders, led by Paul Crarey, finished ahead of their Cumbrian counterparts and placed fourth to make the playoffs.

Sadly the playoffs saw Barrow lose in the first round but that’s just given Crarey and his team longer to prepare for their 2023 campaign which is set to kick off with a pre-season fixture on Sunday.

Barrow will host North Wales Crusaders in a game that will see veteran Nathan Mossop celebrate his testimonial and allow fans to get their first sighting of their new recruits.

Crarey has spoken to his team’s website about pre-season but also the league campaign at large.

“The players have bought into what we’ve done, the senior players that came in have been absolutely brilliant, helping the younger lads.

“We’ve got a good balance of youth, experience and lads who have played at a higher level.

“We’ll get some fitness out of the three games coming up and see where we are as a squad.”

The impressive 2022 saw Crarey honoured as Championship Coach of the Year but he’ll have his work cut out to retain that this upcoming season following an unprecedented wave of talent being signed into the league.

The likes of Luke Gale, Ben Crooks, Jack Walker, Michael Lawrence, Kyle Amor and Brad Walker have all been recruited which will make the race for promotion an incredibly tough one.

Crarey was open about this and added: “It’s going to be a tough challenge in the Championship.

“You look at the signings that have been made in this division, your Featherstone’s and Bradford’s. That puts their coaches and team under tremendous pressure to deliver.

“We’re a balanced side that have been together for a few years now, and we’re really looking forward to the challenge as a group.”

For Barrow they’ll use their game against League One North Wales as a recall to fitness and to honour their long-serving player Nathan Mossop who is entering his 13th season.

Whilst Barrow have recruited well with the likes of Greg Burke and Jack Wells from Salford as well as the addition of Cumbrian Andrew Bulman, the loss of 28-try Tee Ritson will be huge as they aim to return to the playoffs in what’s set to be an incredibly competitive season.

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