JONO Smith was given no opportunity to ease into life with Barrow Raiders after making the switch from fellow Kingstone Press Championship side Rochdale Hornets.

The back row player has completed his long-rumoured move to Craven Park after returning from a holiday in Australia, where he was able to take in the Rugby League World Cup and the Ashes.

But it was straight back into the thick of it doing some tough defensive drills when he arrived for his first training session last Thursday and Smith, who is already friendly with several of his new team-mates, admitted it was a bit of a shock.

“It was very tough and I felt it in the lungs, having had a couple of months in Australia,” said Smith. “That’s done me no good, but it was good to get out there with the lads and meet them.

“I know quite a lot of the lads. I’ve played with a couple at BARLA, and I’m really good mates with Jamie Dallimore, Ryan Fieldhouse and Karl Ashall. I just wanted to come and play with the boys.”

Head coach Paul Crarey, however, was impressed with the fitness levels of his latest recruit in his first pre-season session with the Raiders.

The 29-year-old has been a long-time target for Crarey, who tried to bring him to Barrow when he took charge for the second time three years ago, and he is pleased to finally get his man.

“I tried to get Jono here when I first came, he was on the verge of coming but pulled out at the last minute,” said Crarey. “He contacted me again and said he would like come in, and this time he wouldn’t pull the pin.

“He’s come back in good nick from Australia and I am quite pleasantly surprised of the condition he is in, so we are looking forward to working with him.

“He’s very tough and uncompromising, and gives us that little bit of an x-factor on an edge or in the middle. He is very difficult to stop close to an opponents line.

“He is the old-fashioned squat, barrelly forward, and he is very quick for a big lad and is so hard to handle because of his height, which I think is about 5ft 9ins, but I think he is about 16-and-a-half or 17 stone.”

Meanwhile, Smith’s fellow newcomer Alec Susino is finding himself having to make some adjustments to life on these shores after flying out to England right in the middle of winter.

The former Cronulla Sharks Under-20 prop landed at Manchester Airport on Sunday morning to be greeted by snow for the first time and then had his first Raiders training session in the pouring rain.

But after leaving behind temperatures touching 42 degrees centigrade back home in Sydney, Susino is adapting to life in Barrow through the help of his new team-mates and head coach Paul Crarey.

“It’s very cold and very new,” said Susino. “I’d never seen snow before Sunday, so it’s all new to me, and my first training session on Tuesday it was raining. It’s going to take some getting used to, but I’ll be all right.

“I’m really looking forward to a new challenge. I’ve met all of the lads and I’m really looking forward to playing with them all.

“They’re all very welcoming. They’ve all helped me out with showing me around the town, and the whole bunch of them are really good lads.”