ANDY Gaffney is impressed with the progress Shane Toal is making in his recovery from injury after the winger agreed a new two-year contract with Barrow Raiders.

Toal was forced to miss much of the second half of the 2018 Betfred Championship season due to a ligament injury which is set to keep him out of the first part of next season as well.

However, the Ulverstonian is well on the road to recovery, and has been doing extra work with physio Matty Lippett and using the hyperbaric chamber the club has access too, with Raiders rugby director Gaffney delighted to see Toal so upbeat.

“When we were talking to him, he was absolutely buzzing and can’t wait to get back,” said Gaffney. “He’s actually walking about on his leg at the moment and I was quite surprised how good he was on it.

“It’s all good for his recovery, he’s got the right attitude to come back and do the right things, and it’s good for Barrow and Shane himself.

“We wanted to get Shane signed so he feels part of the team and we’ve always wanted to keep him. He’ll do his rehabilitation at the club and we’ll support him as best we can through that.”

Prior to his injury, Toal had carried on the form from 2017 which saw him finish as Barrow’s top try-scorer and earn a place in Scotland’s squad for the Rugby League World Cup.

He scored 12 tries in 19 appearances for the Raiders last season and his decision to re-sign gives head coach Paul Crarey another option out wide along with Tom Loxam, Luke Cresswell, and new recruits Tee Ritson, Deon Cross, Jake Spedding and Stargroth Amean.

Gaffney rates Toal as one of the best wide players in the division too and is in no doubt the former Cumbria Storm Academy player has plenty more to showcase both when he returns in 2019 and in seasons to come.

“He’s a great player and he’s been absolutely outstanding,” said Gaffney. “I would say he was the best winger in the Championship before his injury.

“The way he finishes tries is unbelievable, as we’ve seen through some of the tries he has scored in the corner where he’s leap like a salmon and put the ball down in tough situations.

“He’s only young as well and he’s got a massive future ahead of him, and hopefully he’s with us for a long time.”

Meanwhile, former Holker Pioneers and Walney Central player Paul Williamson has died at the age of 67 following a short illness.

Paul, well-known in rugby circles as ‘The Beast’, was a giant of a man, and was a hard-running forward and strong in defence.