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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Barrow Raiders sign veteran prop Whitehead

VETERAN Mike Whitehead has signed on for a third spell at Barrow Raiders to help plug the gap in the club’s forward line.

Mike Whitehead
Mike Whitehead has signed on for a third spell with Barrow Raiders

The 34-year-old Walneyite was surprisingly unveiled this morning as part of the solution to coach Darren Holt’s pack woes – added to as he was forced to cancel his first pre-season get-together last night due to the weather.

Props Jamie Butler and Ruairi McGoff will both miss much of pre-season with injury, leaving the club desperate to strengthen their numbers.

Holt is still in talks with a potential new signing from outside the area, but moved swiftly to bring in Whitehead, who had been due to retire from the professional game after ending his four-year spell with Workington.

The Raiders boss was honest in assessing his good friend’s ability and skillset, but feels he can still bring a lot to the table as Barrow step up into the Championship.

“Mike has been up at Workington for three or four years and he was going to retire,” said Holt of the former Wigan Academy player, who has made 265 appearances for Barrow in two spells from 1998-2002 and 2004-2008.

“He is a very good friend of mine and I actually tried to get him down last year from Workington, but he had already signed.

“He was planning on retiring, but for a number of reasons, we find ourselves in a bit of a position now, with the two boys getting injuries and the fact that, having spoken to the rest of my coaching team, it was a no-brainer to bring Mike back down.

“There is a lot of experience there with Mike. He’s not going to be a crowd-pleaser, he is not going to go busting lines or anything like that, but he has never let anybody down on the pitch.

“It was only last year that he played for Cumbria against England Knights and got the man-of-the-match award against the best of the Super League youngsters – Joe Westerman and Lee Mossop and the like. I know what he is capable of and I know he can play the game.

“I’ve made it clear to Mike that with a 34-year-old nothing is guaranteed and he will get out of it what he puts into it, it’s as simple as that.

“I plan on getting him into some decent shape through the pre-season and, if I can do that, I think he can add both to the team and to the squad.”

Whitehead has been turning out on occasion for Walney Central A in the Barrow and District League this season, but will still need to up his fitness when he joins up with Raiders for the start of pre-season training next week.

The players were due to meet up last night, but with the weather closing roads and preventing any out-of-town players from reaching Craven Park, it was cancelled, with Holt dubbing the timing ‘sod’s law’.

There is still the chance another new prop will be with the club by the time of the first training session on Tuesday, with Holt hopeful of completing a further signing this weekend.

He added: “I still think we are a prop shy, especially with the two lads going down injured now.

“Mike is coming in and that is great, but I still think we are a prop shy and we are still in negotiations to try and bring another prop in.
“Once we do that, then we won’t be far off being done then, basically only one more signing.

“We should know exactly where we are towards the end of this week.”

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