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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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Old head Mike will be Barrow Raiders asset, says Holt

RAIDERS boss Darren Holt believes the experience of pack man Mike Whitehead will be invaluable as the team battle it out in the Championship.

Whitehead made his first competitive appearance for Barrow in more than four years as Raiders were beaten 42-12 at Hunslet Hawks in the Championship opener on Sunday.

His signing at the end of last year met with skepticism from sections of supporters, but he had noticeably trimmed down when he featured in pre-season and Holt feels the 34-year-old Walneyite is a valuable asset for the team.

“One of the things we are missing in the squad is a bit of experience,” said the Raiders coach. “I’ve said time and time again that if anyone took the time to sit down and watch replays, they will see that Mike does a lot of things that other people just don’t do.

“That comes from experience and that’s why coaches and other players appreciate him so much, because he does the little things very, very well.

“With him being down here, hopefully some of that can rub off on our younger boys, so they can pick up good habits and, in the meantime, people who were writing him off when I signed him, I would say to them I have yet to play with Mike or coach him and see him let anyone down.

“He’s the kind of player that every squad needs.”

Holt has been particularly pleased with Whitehead’s fitness since returning to Craven Park. The Cumbria representative forward impressed enough in pre-season to earn a place on the bench on Sunday, playing nearly half the game at South Leeds Stadium.

Holt said there would be increased competition for places when the likes of Jack Spencer, Ruairi McGoff and Jamie Butler returned from injury, but the value of Whitehead to the team would continue even then.

“I would say his fitness is as good as it has been for a few years,” he said.

“Up at Workington, I don’t think his fitness was, let’s say, at its peak up there.

“When we get a couple of injuries back, we are going to have tough competition for places. I explained to Mike that if he doesn’t knuckle down and get his fitness done, then it would almost be a waste of his time coming down, because we will have seven props if everybody is fully-fit.

“He knows the situation, he has knuckled down and I’ve been slightly surprised by the way he has been training, but at the same time he’s getting on a bit and he can’t do what he once could, but he’s not there for that reason.”

l The Raiders Bar will be open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday this week to show live rugby league.

The Wigan v Warrington Super League game will be screened on Friday (8pm kick-off, bar opens at 7.30pm), with the Wakefield v Hull KR match shown the following day (5.45pm kick-off, bar opens 5.15pm).

The Dewsbury Rams v Featherstone Rovers Championship match will then be shown following Barrow’s match with Doncaster on Sunday.

Have your say

@ashley, are you nuts?
I wouldn't mind some of that sellafield air holty must be breathing, must make the world look a better place.

Posted by Cuffy on 7 February 2013 at 06:49

Are you joking Ash, He's way past it! Your right, he was at Wigan academy, but not for long, he'd be more at home sticking with Walney A team, Sorry Mike.

Posted by John Sedgwick on 7 February 2013 at 00:38

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