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Friday, 24 October 2014

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Barrow Raiders coach Holt scouting for talent

RAIDERS boss Darren Holt is scouting the next batch of amateur talent after reaping the rewards of local recruitment this season.

Dan Toal, Andrew Dawson and Lee Haney were among the players plucked from the local game as Barrow won promotion from Championship One with a South Cumbria-centric squad.

Most of the amateurs turned professionals proved hits – Toal scored 16 tries and Dawson was named Young Player-of-the-Year – and Holt is sure there is more gold to be mined from the Furness amateur seam.

“There is undoubtedly still more talent out there,” said the Barrow boss. “I have said for years that there are a number of players throughout the amateur game in Cumbria who are capable.

“You look at the likes of Dan Toal and Andrew Dawson – people we were talking about last year and people were saying ‘yeah, they are good players, but they can’t step up’.

“All they needed was an opportunity and there are more players out there who, given the right opportunity, could do the same thing.”

Holt has already picked out a handful of talented amateurs he feels could still make the step up to play professionally.

BARLA internationals Danny Morrow and Marcus O’Brien, as well as Barrow Island’s former Warrington Wolves Academy youngster Tom Brannon, have all caught his eye.

Holt hopes to invite several amateurs to check out the Barrow set-up again this year, with the hope more will follow in the footsteps of Toal, Dawson and Haney.

“You have Danny Morrow at Walney, Marcus O’Brien up at Millom, young Tom Brannon at Barrow Island, who has been at Warrington,” he said of potential future stars.

“These players, put in the right environment and given the opportunity, I think, could potentially flourish and just get better and better and better.

“But, at the same time, it is not just a case of us wanting them and them coming down, it is their decision as well – it’s what they want and what they see coming forward.

“I’ve named three there, but I am sure there are plenty more, given the right opportunity, who could step up and surprise both themselves and a few other people as well.”

Barrow’s recruitment drive for 2013 has mostly revolved around bringing in players with Championship or Super League experience.

They will bolster the current squad, many of whom have never played higher than Championship One and some of whom only have a season’s professional rugby league behind them.

But that is not to say Holt does not see a place for more recruits from the amateur game, if they fit into the Raiders set-up.

“We never say never,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, we have had to bring a couple of players in with Championship experience this year, that goes without saying. But certainly the amateur talent in this area is there for everybody to see.

“The amount of people who are going to Super League clubs from this area is well known and we will never close the door to anybody who wants to come down, who wants to have a look at our set-up and have a go. As long as it fits in with our plans, I will be on the phone to them and inviting them down.

“Whether they actually accept the invite, that is down to them.”

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