TEE Ritson has faced Whitehaven plenty of times in the West Cumbria derby. Tomorrow, he will get to experience an inter-county clash from a Barrow Raiders perspective.

The Cumbria Storm Academy graduate’s time with hometown club Workington Town saw him square off against their nearest and dearest in both league and friendly matches – if a meeting between the two can ever really be described as a friendly, anyway.

It is no different when the Raiders and Haven clash either. Just ask anyone who watched their three most recent meetings in the 2017 League One season, including the nerve-shredding 10-6 win for Barrow in the play-off final at Craven Park.

Given there are plenty of connections between players and coaches on both teams too, there is likely to be an extra bit of spice added to the match and full-back Ritson cannot wait for the clash.

“There’s going to be a lot of stick from the crowd and there are a lot of mates on both teams,” said Ritson. “But we’re going to be enemies for 80 minutes and it should be exciting.

“I’m really looking forward to it and hopefully we can get the result.

“Everyone is up for it, the crowd are up for it and it’s pretty intense, so we’ll definitely be going out there to get the win.

“I’m expecting a physical game, but I think, hopefully, we should get to top them anyway.”

Ritson is one of several new additions the Raiders have recruited for the 2019 Betfred Championship season, returning to Cumbria after a year playing for League One side Newcastle Thunder.

It was a season which saw him underline the ability he showed while at Workington, running in 18 tries in 22 appearances for Newcastle, and he now has the chance to cement his place as a first-team regular at Championship level.

The 28-year-old has quickly settled in at Barrow, where fellow West Cumbrians Tom Walker and Glenn Riley are already established players, and is enjoying getting some game-time under his belt after some gruelling pre-season training.

“I think the sand dunes were the one of the worst things I’ve done,” said Ritson. “It’s been a pretty tough pre-season, but it’s been enjoyable and I feel really fit after it.

“It’s been one of the most beneficial pre-seasons for me, personally.

“I seem to have fitted in well already and I’ve gelled with the lads. They’ve welcomed me in and all been spot on.

“It’s a good craic with them and I’m looking forward to playing with them more throughout the season.”

Ritson got his first outing for Barrow last Sunday, although it was hardly the ideal start as the home side lost 24-10 to League One promotion favourites Oldham in an underwhelming contest.

Ritson recognised there were improvements to make from that game, but at the same time knows better than to read too much into pre-season results.

“We didn’t really perform too well and I think everyone knows that,” said Ritson.

“The lads know there is stuff we need to put right in training, but the main thing with pre-season friendlies is just to blow the cobwebs off and get the fitness back up.

“We’ve still got a few lads to come back in, so there were no worries on our part.”