A TOUGH final pre-season workout against a youthful Wigan Warriors side was spoilt only by the wet and windy weather, writes Raiders Review columnist Tony Colyer.

A draw was probably a fair result, with the muddy conditions dictating the dynamics of the game with plenty of lost possession and too many penalties (18).

It was good to see the Furness public support the well-marketed event with an impressive crowd of 2,248 turning up despite the bad weather. So it proved if Barrow can get it right on the pitch there is potential to build on this.

The 2019 Championship season kicks off tomorrow and it looks like it is going to be the most competitive ever, based on the strength of the squads assembled by our competitors. Toronto are odds on favourites for the title but I’m sure Widnes, Bradford, Featherstone, Toulouse and Halifax won’t be far behind.

The teams we have most chance of success over have also recruited well, with Rochdale, Swinton, Dewsbury, York, Leigh and Sheffield improving upon last season.

Tomorrow, we begin with a difficult opener against Batley Bulldogs on the Mount Pleasant slope.

They are always very physical and one notable signing during the close season was Tyler Dickinson, from Huddersfield Giants, who was very impressive for Workington Town last season. Louis Jouffret, who had a short spell at Whitehaven, a couple of seasons ago has been signed permanently from Catalan Dragons and he proved to be key to Batley’s end-of-season success, with seven victories from their last eight games – including an impressive win against Barrow at Craven Park.

The three friendlies have posed more questions than given answers. Therefore, the opening month against teams expected to be in the same space as ourselves will inform us whether we can build on last season’s survival strategy and move towards mid-table security or even the play-offs.

Has our recruitment been effective? Jake Spedding, Deon Cross and Tee Ritson have potential, but current conditions probably don’t suit their style, so they will have to adapt quickly as we need to exploit their undoubted talent.

The three PNG guys are still coming to terms with life here and they need to be a bit special to give us those extra options.

Injuries to key personnel are not helping and we must improve our performances on the road as we only had one win last season. It is the old chestnuts of discipline, set completion rates and effective last-tackle options which must be addressed.

This is going to be a very tough season, but hopefully Barrow can rise to the challenge.

Best of luck to everyone associated with the club – you deserve the support of the Furness public for all your efforts thus far.

Onwards and upwards!