PAUL Crarey hailed Tom Walker for putting in a monument shift off the interchange bench in his first game back for Barrow Raiders last Sunday.

The prop made his return in the 32-12 loss to Dewsbury Rams after a long spell away due to work commitments, but ended up playing longer than anticipated due to Arnaud Bartes being forced off with a head injury.

Raiders head coach Crarey had initially wanted to keep Walker fresh for this Sunday’s visit of Swinton Lions, but despite his hand being forced by injuries he was impressed with the forward’s efforts.

“Joe Bullock was on the mike saying his legs had gone and I was saying ‘keep him out there’,” said Crarey. “We had people going down all over we could tell Tom had gone.

“At one point, we couldn’t get him out because we had bodies down injured.

“So for him to put his hand up and come back a week early - and risk being injured when you’re probably not up to speed - says a lot about him.”

Lewis Charnock was playing only his second game after nearly the entire season out with a shoulder injury which required surgery.

And while Crarey has detected a little rustiness in the scrum-half’s play due to him not quite being back up to full speed, he added Charnock is being targeted by opposing forwards in defence due to having been out since February.

“There are a few little errors in Lewis just due to fatigue,” said Crarey.

“They’re going to send traffic at him because he hasn’t played for a while, so they’re punching big forwards down the side to fatigue him.

“We can see that as coaches and they’re just being smart in their approach to how they play us.”

The defeat at Dewsbury meant Barrow are not certain of a place in the Betfred Championship next season.

But the Raiders’ destiny is still in their own hands with three games left and Crarey is happy to be in that position, especially with the off-the-field issues the club has faced.

“If anybody said to me at the start of the year you’d have a five-point cushion with three games to go and have the team below you at home, especially with what’s gone on off the field, we’d have bitten their hands off,” said Crarey.

“We’ve had a real good dig in this division and there is no hiding place at all.”