Former Super League halfback Brad Walker has joined Barrow Raiders on a two-year deal.
Born in Barrow, Walker made the move to Widnes Vikings during his younger years, in search of an eventual career in the Betfred Super League.
He came through the Vikings’ academy ranks and made a total of 40 appearances before being granted a release from his contract in November 2019 to pursue opportunities elsewhere.
The 25-year-old spent three years at Wakefield Trinity before making the move to Keighley Cougars ahead of the 2023 Betfred Championship campaign.
He made 22 appearances for the Cougars last season, 18 of which were starts. Walker also demonstrated his versatility during that time, starting the season as a loose forward before featuring more regularly in the halves as the year progressed.
He has now opted to make the move back to Cumbria and represent his hometown club over the next two seasons, following discussions with head coach Paul Crarey after his recent outing for Cumbria against Wales in Kyle Amor’s testimonial.
On joining the club, Walker said: “I’m really excited about getting stuck in. I’ve known Cresta [Paul Crarey] and a lot of the lads for a long time since growing up.
“Being a Barrow fan when I was younger, I always wanted to play for the club at one time in my career. It’s the right move for me at this time – the last couple of years have been difficult and I haven’t been enjoying my rugby the most, so this is a good opportunity for me to kick on and rediscover my best form.
“Knowing I’ll be playing with a lot of the lads I grew up with makes the transition easier. I know what this group can do, and we’re ready to step things up this year.
“I want to find my position and cement a place in the squad for every game. Hopefully I can work hard in pre-season, have a good start to the year and make a name for myself at this club.”
Barrow Raiders head coach Paul Crarey said: “It’s great news for the club that another local product is returning to the area to play for his hometown club in the shape of Brad Walker.
“Brad played a lot of his junior rugby alongside Ellis Gillam and Ryan Johnston. I have followed Brad’s career closely since his junior days, and he was outstanding against us for Keighley earlier in the year.
“He is equally at home playing six or 13, and his versatility and toughness will give us lots of options.”
Director of rugby Andy Gaffney said: “There’s no denying the quality that Brad brings to our squad for 2024.
“By his own admission, the last couple of seasons haven’t gone as well as he might’ve liked, but this is a chance for him to have a fresh start and get back to showing the high level of performance which we both know he’s capable of.
“Brad’s attitude is top-class, and he knows what this club means to the people of Barrow. We’re all excited to work with him over the next two seasons.”