Harper to start on his return to Barrow
FAMILIAR face Eze Harper has returned to Barrow Raiders and will stay until the end of the season.
The winger or centre joined Barrow on loan from Leigh Centurions last year before moving on to other challenges.
Harper asked to be released from his current club, Championship side Sheffield Eagles, and is set to start for newly-crowned League One Cup winners Barrow in their League One clash against Hunslet Hawks at Craven Park this Saturday (kick-off 6.30pm).
His move back to Barrow has come just at the right time for coach Paul Crarey with centres Andy Litherland and Tom Loxam both recovering from injury.
Crarey said: “He phoned me up and said he would like to come back to Barrow and would we give him a chance.
“With the injuries we have got, Tom Loxham and Andy Litherland, we thought we would give him a run in the centres and see how he goes. He has played centre for Leigh and Sheffield.
“He’s a natural try scorer and did great for us the last time he was here. He’s quick, we like our outside backs to be pacy, he can defend and is a natural athlete.”
“I have told him it is an opportunity for him to work hard and try and get himself a contract next year.”
Raiders director of rugby Andy Gaffney said: “Eze was a very popular player for Barrow last year and as we have been getting a few injuries he has come in just at the right time. He is tough and will do well.”
There are further reinforcements for Barrow with winger Brett Carter also ready to start in what will be his 150th game as a professional after overcoming a serious facial injury during the 82-0 defeat over Hemel Stags some 10 weeks ago.
The former Workington player comes in for Shane Toal, who picked up a knee injury during the Raiders 38-32 cup final win over North Wales Crusaders at Blackpool last week.
Carter suffered a fractured cheekbone and eye socket on his Barrow debut game, and Crarey said: “It is going to be a big test for his character. It was just a shame he was out for so long.
“He has trained really hard, done a lot of work on his own, and he is as fit as anything.”
Another cup final hero, Oliver Wilkes also misses the Hunslet clash as he recovers from a torn calf muscle and could be out for up to a month. Tom Walker, James Duerden or Andrew Dawson will battle it out to fill the berth.
Crarey is looking forward to locking horns with Hunslet and he said: “We are refreshed, we have had a lot of rest so fatigue will not be an issue and we are back playing at home.
“We love playing in front of our home crowd.”
After some big matches against Leeds Rhinos in the Challenge Cup, Toronto Wolfpack in Canada, and the League One cup final, Crarey added: “There is no pressure on us now, we have just got to go out and enjoy it.”
Crarey’s side will keep an eye on dangerous hooker, former Batley Bulldogs and Featherstone Rovers player George Flanagan, and the Raiders coach said of their opponents: “They are a very tough and physical side, we have got to match that and take their very big, powerful middle on.”