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Friday, 22 August 2014

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Larkin backs new signings to push Barrow Raiders on

CENTRE Chris Larkin is confident the new blood in the Barrow Raiders squad can propel them upwards in the Championship.

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CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE: Chris Larkin believes the new Raiders signings can blend with the local core at Craven Park to great effect BILL WATKINSON

Larkin is now a seasoned campaigner at Craven Park, having made 75 appearances and scored 34 tries since making his debut in 2007.

In his six years at the club, the 26-year-old former Roose Pioneers amateur has seen numerous players come and go from the Raiders set-up, from former Super League aces to locals trying their luck in the professional game.

While there has been no return to the formula of Barrow’s last stint in the Championship, between 2009 and 2011, when ex-chairman Des Johnston brought in a series of big names to varying degrees of success, there have been a number of fresh faces signed on by coach Darren Holt.

Among them are Super League experienced Dean McGilvray and Kurt Haggerty, and Larkin believes they and the other new boys can blend in with the local core at Craven Park to great effect.

“There was a time when we had a lot of big names who people had heard of from their time playing Super League or NRL – Ned Catic, or people like that,” he said.

“Now we are more of a locally-based team, with several key players, in my eyes, who have come in from away.

“We’ve brought in some good names – Dean McGilvray has come in. I played against him two seasons ago and at the time he was really firing every time I watched him for Leigh and everyone was buzzing off how he was playing.

“I think he will be a key part.

“Then there’s obviously Kurt Haggerty. He played Super League last year, 16 games last season, so there are definitely players there who are going to come in, give us options and bring a lot to the team.

“As far as comparing the squad to other seasons, I would say we will be up there and anyone who comes to Craven Park will know they are in a game – no-one will want to come to Craven Park.

“But there are going to be tough games at teams like Featherstone and the like as well.”

While Larkin is confident his new team-mates will add that little bit extra to the Barrow squad, he is also expecting big things from several of the players retained from last season.

He particularly picked out Dan Toal and Andrew Dawson – both having come up from the amateur game to great success last season and captain Liam Harrison, who was a standout player in his first campaign as both skipper and a second-row forward.

Larkin added: “The new lads will definitely bring something to the squad, but I also think people like Dan Toal and Andrew Dawson, who came in last year and had their first professional seasons, have learnt a lot from last year and are going to give even more this year.

“Liam Harrison moved to the second row and had his first season there week in, week out. I think he learnt a lot last year, so he will probably have more to give as well.”

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