EVEN with the sun out, a breezy Blackpool seafront in April perhaps does not do much to evoke feelings of summertime.

But in just over one month's time, the Betfred Championship will descend on the seaside resort for its annual two-day gathering at Bloomfield Road, the Summer Bash, where all 14 clubs will play a round of fixtures.

They were all represented this Wednesday just gone, with players chatting to the assembled media and posing for the obligatory photographs in front of the town's iconic landmark, the Blackpool Tower.

There on behalf of Barrow Raiders was Deon Cross, who faced off with ex-Raider Matt James – now of Barrow's Summer Bash opponents Sheffield Eagles – before joining the others for a group picture.

This year will be the three-quarter's second time playing in Blackpool in front of the Sky Sports cameras, having been part of the Rochdale Hornets team which faced Swinton Lions in a derby clash in his maiden professional campaign in 2018.

And despite the Hornets going down 38-12, it was an experienced he enjoyed and one he is looking forward to again.

"It was a good experience, apart from the result," said Cross. "Especially for my first year as well, it was all about getting that experience and I really enjoyed.

"Hopefully we can get another good result when we go up there. Over the last few weeks we've started building a bit more and showing some potential, especially last Sunday against Leigh.

"Hopefully now we can head into the Easter weekend in good form and then the Summer Bash."

The Easter double-header was another new experience for former St Helens youth player Cross, having earned a professional contract at Rochdale after impressing for amateurs Blackbrook.

Barrow could arguably have not been handed a much tougher draw than Toronto Wolfpack on Good Friday followed by Bradford Bulls on Easter Monday.

Yet Cross is relishing the opportunity to take on the star-studded Canadians followed by the trip to Odsal, having coped well with the rigours of the Easter programme at Rochdale.

"I didn't find it too bad, to be fair," said Cross. "I was a bit sore for the Monday game, but we were looked after and did the right training, so we were nice and fresh going into the game.

"It's the same for both and I don't think many people like the Easter weekend, but I don't mind it. You've got to stick with it and hopefully we can get two points from somewhere.

"It's a tough run of fixtures and obviously you're playing against some superstar teams, so you get to test yourself against the best and it gives us a benchmark to see where we're at."

The injury-hit Raiders may well benefit from having this weekend off too following their elimination from the Challenge Cup.

It also gives the squad the opportunity for a non-rugby get-together as well.

"There are a few quiet lads in the group and it brings out their personalities as well," said Cross. "It makes you feel like a team when you go into training and it might pay off on the pitch as well.

"It's probably worked out well, not playing in the Cup. We'll be able to get a few bodies back, freshen up and then we'll be ready for this busy Easter period.

"Obviously we'll try to keep fresh and keep fit."