He's one of Barrow Raiders' brightest prospects, but signing a professional contract halfway through the season still came as a surprise to up-and-coming winger Adam Ford.

It was announced on Monday that Ford had agreed an 18-month deal that would keep him at Craven Park until the end of the 2020 season.

This followed the 19-year-old Walney Central product having an outstanding season as part of the Raiders' under-19 team, who he helped romp away with the AoC National Cup final against Wigan Warriors Foundation College last week.

Ford has some first-team experience from playing in Barrow's pre-season games over the last two years, but he is now set to make the permanent step up, which is something that has come out of the blue for him.

Ford said: "I wouldn't say it was a certainty. I'd been down for the last two pre-seasons with them, playing in a couple of pre-season games, but it was never certain that I was going to get a contract.

"I wasn't expecting it this season, I thought it would maybe happen next season. But it's good that it's happened and that I get to be involved for the remainder of this season."

It was after Ford had scored twice against Wigan at Featherstone's Post Office Road ground last Wednesday that he first found out head coach Paul Crarey and rugby director Andy Gaffney were interested in getting him signed on with the first team.

"It was on the bus home from the final," Ford said, adding: "David Cairns (Furness Raiders coach) pulled me to the front and said that Cresta had been on the phone, saying he wants to offer me a contract.

"I think it was the next morning that Gaff rang me up and he told me he wanted to meet me that night to discuss it."

Furness Raiders' cup triumph came a year after they fell at the final hurdle against Wakefield, with the current crop having several promising players looking capable of making the step up in the years ahead.

Ford believes the fact that the under-19 and senior teams are encouraged to play the same way should make the transition into the first-team set-up a little smoother.

He said: "I've been in the program for a while and have been coached from quite a young age and that makes the step up to the first team a lot easier.

"You've already had the shape of the team drilled into you because the shape we have at the Furness Raiders is the same shape we have here. It makes the step up a lot easier and I think a few of the lads will definitely come through in the next two years.

"The step up from amateur to pre-season training was a big change, but you can adapt to it quite easily and the lads help you get through it."