Andy Ballard heads list of Swinton signings

Andy Ballard heads a list of 11 players signed up by Swinton for next season.

The former Barrow full-back or winger is joined by Halifax hooker or back-row Josh Barlow as the two new faces in the Lions squad.

They are joined by Mark Smith, Darren and Richie Hawkyard, Chris Clarke, Kevin Penny, Sam Reay and Alex Hurst.

The return of Martin Ainscough and Chaz I’Anson was announced three weeks ago.

Ballard, 26, played for Oldham, Salford and Wigan before joining Barrow in 2009 when Lions coach Steve McCormack was in charge of the Cumbrian club.

The Wigan-based electrician will bring a wealth of experience to the Swinton back line and Lions director of rugby Paul Kidd said: “Andy is a top signing for us who will add quality and composure to the side.

“Steve McCormack knows him well and I’m sure he will fit straight in.”

Ballard scored 62 tries during his spell at Barrow and made the Championship One All-Star team. 

He wanted to leave Barrow on a high, but hopes of a Grand Final win were dashed by Doncaster.

He’s now looking forward to playing for a club nearer home.

He said: “The travelling was getting me down a little bit – I have been doing it for four years now, so it is good to sign for a local club and have a bit more of a life really. 

“I’ve two young daughters and I can spend a bit more time with my family now, instead of travelling up there.”

Barlow, 22, has played for Steve McCormack with Scotland. He joined Halifax in 2011 with his brother Sam after returning from a spell in Australia.

Swinton have moved a step closer to their ambition of a new ground on Agecroft Road.

Chairman John Kidd addressed a meeting of supporters last week to give them an update on progress after discussions with City Council representatives.

He said: “The feeling from within the City Council is such that it would now be appropriate to apply for planning permission as soon as possible.

“Providing there is a robust business plan and the capital finances stack up, there is in principle support for the project.”

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