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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

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Botes switches codes to join Raiders revolution

SOUTH African rugby union forward Mike Botes has become the first new face to join Barrow Raiders.

The Furness RUFC player has been plucked from the other code by new Craven Park boss Darren Holt – who coached him at the Strawberry Grounds for three years.

As well as Botes, 2011 Raiders squad members Mike Backhouse and Liam Finch have also penned new deals, taking the number of enlisted players to seven, including Holt himself.

The rookie coach is confident Botes will prove a valuable addition to the Barrow squad, despite having little experience of rugby league to date.

“I’ve been at Mike for a couple of years being down at Furness,” said Holt. “I’ve watched him play, I’ve coached him down at Furness and the way he plays the game is 100 per cent suited to rugby league.

“I have been saying to him for years to go down training in pre-season with the Raiders. He is suited to the game and I am expecting a lot from Mike, to be honest.

“He’s a good lad, a good trainer and he gives 100 per cent when he goes out on the pitch, so I am expecting good things from him.

“He has just got to go down, knuckle down, get into the pre-season, get to know the boys, we’ll work on a few technical things with him with regard to the game. He will certainly be getting some game time if he mucks in at training.”

Botes previously turned out for Raiders Academy in 2008, while both Backhouse and Finch have been playing in the amateur game recently, with Roose Pioneers and Walney Central respectively.

The South African – one of three to join Furness in 2008 along with Corne Els and Andries Venter – does not count as an overseas player, having lived in Furness for close to five years and married a local girl.

Holt added: “He did come down to Barrow one year and had a couple of games for the Academy, before he broke an eye socket against Leigh.

“Up until that point, he was man-of-the-match on the pitch and that was one of his first games of rugby league.”

The trio join Liam Campbell, Nathan Mossop and Marc Dixon in agreeing contracts with Barrow, with more set to follow this week.

Holt hopes to have a substantial squad in place in two weeks’ time and feels Backhouse and Finch both add something with their skills.

“The main thing for me is that they are local boys for a start,” he added. “I can start talking about Liam Finch – everyone knows his talent, it’s just about getting him down in the right environment and getting the best out of him.

“I’m very confident with the set-up that we are going to put in place down at Craven Park that he will buy into it and we will see the best out of him again.

“Backy, he’s a local lad and he just wants to play for his hometown club.

“He has a lot of experience – he has played a lot of games both in Championship One and in the Championship.

“He’s a workhorse, he never shirks his work-rate and it’s people like that in this year’s squad who I will be looking towards.”

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