World Cup star expects Super League promotion push

Barrow Raiders shocked much of the rugby league community and in particular the Championship last season when they finished the regular season in fourth place on their first year back in rugby league’s second tier.

One of the players who was key to that was Anton Iaria and the 26-year-old has spoken to the Raiders website to talk about what next for the team and also how his World Cup experience with Italy went.

Raiders did brilliantly to come fourth in their first season back in the Championship, having been promoted from League One in 2021, but they unfortunately fell at the first playoff round to eventual runners up Batley Bulldogs.

Iaria doesn’t expect the season season to be as easy this time round for the club that secured the award of Club of the Year at the Championship and League One awards.

The Italian said: “I think we flew under the radar a little bit and shocked a lot of people throughout the year.

“We’ve put ourselves on the map now, so there’ll be no more of that now. Everyone will probably have a target on us, wanting to get a bit of revenge, but we’ll welcome that.

“We want to finish in the top four again and push even further.”

Following the success of his first season with the Raiders, in which he played 31 times and scored six tries, he received a call up to the Italian World Cup squad where he started all three of the Azzuri’s group games.

“It was the highlight of my career, to be honest. It was the most fun I’ve had playing rugby league. I learnt and grew so much from the competition.

“Hopefully I can bring a bit of that experience back with me next season.”

If he manages to bring anything he learned from that elite level back to Barrow, having played against both Fiji and winners Australia whilst beating Scotland, then he’ll vastly improve the Raiders in his second season with the club.

His performances warranted an extension and he will play with the club until the end of 2023, something he was very positive about as he credited his fellow teammates.

“Cresta [Paul Crarey] makes it really easy for us to do our individual roles, and when we manage to do that, we’ve connected really well.

“We all hold each other accountable and want the best versions of each other, so it’s really easy to play in a team like this. I’ve enjoyed myself hugely.”

In a Championship that features some big hitters next season, Barrow will be in for an incredibly tough year but with Iaria primed to go well again they can maybe fulfil his expectations of another top four year or better.

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