Sam Brooks: Squad depth fuelling Raiders’ success

Barrow Raiders forward Sam Brooks believes the wealth of options available to head coach Paul Crarey is one of the overriding reasons behind the club’s success this season.

On their return to the second tier, the Raiders have exceeded all expectations to put themselves in play-off contention with five rounds of the regular season remaining. 

They enjoyed an unbeaten July before putting in a spirited display away at league leaders Leigh Centurions last time out, albeit in defeat.

The trip to Leigh Sports Village saw winger Brett Carter and forward Danny Morrow feature for the first time since mid-July, while Connor Saunders made just his second appearance of the season and James Duerden returned to the fold.

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With such competition for places, Brooks is confident that the Raiders have the character and quality to quickly put last week’s defeat to the Centurions behind them. 

“Leigh are a quality side and we showed our own quality, but overall they were a little bit too strong for us on the day and more clinical in areas,” he admitted.

“We definitely showed that we can compete with the teams at the top. 

“Quite a few times this season we’ve come up against opposition where, at the start of the season, people would’ve written us off straight away, and we’ve gone on to win some of those games quite comfortably too. 

“We’re confident in how we can play. We don’t go into any game thinking that we’re going to get beat. We go into them thinking that there are two points up for grabs.”

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On the Raiders’ strength in depth, Brooks added: “Some boys are probably disappointed to not be getting picked every week, but we’ve got a lot of quality throughout the team and when people are called up we know that they’ll do a good job.

“I think everyone, from 1-17, is confident that they can put in a good performance on matchday, and more often than not this year we’ve got wins from that.”

Since arriving at the club last October, Brooks, 28, has been a shining light in the forward pack, making 22 appearances in total.

The Scotland international will look to extend that tally on Sunday when the Raiders visit fellow play-off contenders Batley Bulldogs, and he admits the club cannot afford to let standards slip at such a crucial stage of the season.

“We said at the start of the season that you don’t get an easy game in the Championship,” he said.

“Obviously this month we’re playing teams in and around ourselves and near the top of the table, so they’re going to be tough games, but we’re confident that we can win these games.

“If we can take some points out of August, which I think we will, then that will further cement our position in the play-offs.”

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