PAUL Crarey admitted at being disappointed to learn Barrow Raiders were once again handed an away fixture for the first game of the 2019 Betfred Championship season.

It will be the eighth year in a row the Raiders have been on the road for the first match of the campaign, with their last home opener coming against Leigh Centurions in the 2011 Championship season – and even that was after being given a bye for the first round of what was then an 11-team competition.

Crarey would have liked Barrow to face a different opponent in the Summer Bash rather than Sheffield Eagles, who they will play three times in the league for the second year running, but the head coach understands there is always someone going to be left unhappy with how the fixtures fall.

“We’re a bit disappointed in that and I think if you play away the first year, you should get a home fixture the second year, but it doesn’t work like that,” said Crarey. “I think the computer just shoves it out and we get what we’ve got, but we’ll deal with is as a group and get ready for a tough start again.

“I would have liked us to have a different fixture at Blackpool and I think they should mix that up a bit. It’s the second year we play Sheffield and Swinton play Rochdale, and they could probably do with shaking that up a bit.

“But you can’t please everyone all of the time and you’ll never please everyone with what has been dished out, and we’ve got to deal with it.”

After the full-time teams, Batley on the slope at Mount Pleasant is arguably one of the toughest fixtures the Raiders could have been handed for the first Championship game of the year.

Nevertheless, Crarey is confident Barrow can hit the ground running in their second season back in the division and hopes a start along the lines of 2018, when they drew with Toronto Wolfpack and beat Leigh Centurions at Craven Park, will lay the foundations for the rest of the year.

“We’ll just get on with it like we did last year and we had a tough start then,” said Crarey.

“Anybody at home on the first day of the season is going to be difficult because it’s the start of the season and everybody is ready to play, so it would be tough wherever you go.

“We need a good start to get the crowds in and hopefully we’ll get them, but it’s going to be really difficult this year. But we’re looking forward to it this year and we’re preparing well.

“We’re going really hard physically like we did in pre-season last year and, hopefully, we’ll get a good start like we did last year, which set us up for the year.”