DEON Cross and Jake Spedding have boosted Barrow Raiders’ options in the three-quarters for next year after being unveiled as the club’s first two new signings for the 2019 season.

Cross makes the switch from fellow Betfred Championship side Rochdale Hornets and Spedding joins on a two-year contract from Super League side St Helens, having impressed while on loan at Sheffield Eagles in 2018.

Centre Cross is a product of Saints’ youth system as well, but had returned to the amateur game after being released before earning a contract with the Hornets in January following a successful trial.

He has continued to stand out for Rochdale despite the side struggling at the foot of the table and Raiders rugby director Andy Gaffney is delighted he will be moving to Craven Park.

“Deon has been absolutely brilliant,” said Gaffney. “To me, he’s the young player of the year in the Championship and it’s great to be able to bring in that type of player.

“You always find players who have gone to a Super League club at an early age are more adapted to the professional environment because they’ve been in the system early on, they’re used to the training and the diet, and they seem to click straight back in.”

Certainly, Cross has quickly adapted to life back in the professional game, having been recommended to the Hornets by one of their former players and Blackbrook coach Ant Walker.

Outgoing Rochdale coach Alan Kilshaw was impressed with how he performed during his trial as well.

“I think Deon is a great example for younger lads who, for whatever reason, don’t get kept on at pro clubs,” said Kilshaw at the time.

“He didn’t moan about the lack of reserves or opportunities, he went back to his amateur club Blackbrook and developed his game further.

“He is athletic with good footwork and, importantly for any centre, he can defend and read well in defence.”

Meanwhile, Spedding has been catching the eye for Sheffield in the Championship this year.

The 21-year-old is comfortable either on the wing or at centre and will provide valuable options in an area Barrow have been left short in this year due to injuries.

“Jake is the type of player we want to bring in,” said Gaffney. “He can cover a couple of positions as well rather than just being out-and-out in one.

“If we bring players in who can play in a couple of positions, it means we don’t have to play players in positions where they’re uncomfortable, which has happened this year with all of the injuries we have had.”