Rugby League


28 Mar 2024

Championship Chats: Brad Walker

Championship Chats: Brad Walker

Hear from Brad Walker as he talks about life at his boyhood club Barrow...

Barrow are back in action in Round 2 of the Betfred Championship and will face Whitehaven in a Cumbrian derby on Good Friday. 

And there’s one man hoping to make a real impact in the Raiders side this year, as half-back Brad Walker hopes to be a hometown hero alongside his team-mates.

Born in Barrow, it was an easy decision to sign for his boyhood club when the opportunity arose. Starting out at the Widnes, Walker came through their academy ranks in his younger years, before going on to spend three years at Wakefield Trinity.

The 26-year-old has a total of 33 Super League appearances under his belt having played for both the Vikings and Trinity clubs, and first made his Super League debut in 2016. He also enjoyed a short loan spell with North Wales Crusaders in between and has joined Barrow for 2024 from Keighley Cougars.

During his time at the Cougars, Walker made 22 appearances and has established himself as a versatile individual who can play at both loose forward and in the halves. He will also bring previous top tier experience to his new team.

And now a Barrow Raider for at least the next two years and taking the number six jersey for the 2024 season, Walker explained how it was a no-brainer for him to return home:

“It was an easy decision to make. It’s probably been a long time coming as it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while now.

“It’s the perfect time for me and my career at the moment. I’ve had a couple of years where I haven’t been fully happy or where I’ve wanted to be, but a move back here is what I wanted.

“A move back with my friends and all the lads I grew up playing with might hopefully kick-start my career again.

“It’s something new and I’m looking forward to being around my family and friends.”

The Raiders are yet to find form in the league having suffered a heavy opening defeat to Walker’s former club Widnes in Round 1, but had impressed in this year’s AB Sundecks 1895 Cup competition.

They bowed out of the quarter-finals following a 30-12 defeat to Wakefield Trinity, but it was a valiant effort from Barrow as they persisted for the full 80 minutes and made life hard for Daryl Powell’s men - bringing an expansive and eye-catching kicking game to the city of West Yorkshire.

Paul Crarey’s men had recently beaten Cumbrian rivals Workington and Whitehaven to cement this quarter-final spot and finish top of the group stages. Unbeaten in their pre-season friendlies also, the Raiders have shown some promising signs and glimpses as they hope to kick-start their campaign this weekend.

And with their focus now firmly on the Betfred Championship, all heads will turn to Friday’s fixture, when Barrow are on the road again for Round 2 and will look to right their wrongs from the previous round.

They make the short trip across Cumbria to face their local rivals, but it is the Raiders who have won the last seven out of eight meetings with Whitehaven, including the 12-18 1895 Cup Round 2 win back in February. Could another close contest be on the cards?

Walker has been playing alongside Ryan Johnston in the halves, who is also from Barrow and recently signed a new three-year-deal. And the hometown half-backs will look to form a dangerous partnership and cause all sorts of problems for teams in the Championship this year.

“Ryan [Johnston] and I are gelling well,” Walker said. “The training we’ve been doing has been really good and we’ll hope to gel a bit more as time goes on.”

And with the second tier set to be one of the most competitive seasons yet, as already seen in Round 1, Walker has outlined some of the goals that Barrow and himself will look to work towards:

“The Championship clubs are very good and there’s a lot of talent in this league. The standard is very high.

“The goal for Barrow will probably be to be underdogs, although we don’t always want to have the underdog tag.

“A lot of teams will look at us and probably hope they can get a win against us. But we know we’ve got a good enough squad to be competing at the top and that’s my goal too.

“I want to be taking Barrow up near the top and be challenging with the top teams. My goals are to play as well as I can, play every game, stay fit and be happy.

“I know when I’m happy I play my best rugby and that’s the main thing for me.”

Looking ahead to the highly-anticipated Whitehaven clash and a round of derbies and rivalries across the three tiers, Walker is excited for the occasion:

“I’ve heard a lot about the Whitehaven derby, so I’m really looking forward to being involved in that for the first time.

“But for me, I’m also looking forward to playing in front of my friends and family who probably haven’t seen me play much.”

Tickets are still available for this Round 2 Cumbrian derby. Fans can purchase tickets from both Whitehaven and Barrow’s official club websites.

The full fixture list for the Betfred Championship can be found here.

A full Betfred Championship Round 2 Preview can be found here.