Barrow Raiders confirm departure of Wales international with replacement signed up as reinforcements promised by Cumbrians

Ben Olawumi
Ben Evans

Ben Evans in action for Wales at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup - Alamy

Championship outfit Barrow Raiders have granted Wales international Ben Evans an early release from his contract, and say they ‘have already signed a replacement’, who will be ‘announced early next week’.

12-time Wales international Evans – the twin brother of former Warrington Wolves ace Rhys – joined Barrow on a two-year deal from Bradford Bulls ahead of the season just gone.

He has been allowed to cut that contract short by 12 months however to take up what the Raiders describe as ‘a dream job away from rugby.’

Accordingly, he departs the Matt Johnson Prestige Stadium with 22 appearances to his name, scoring tries against both Swinton Lions and Cumbrian rivals Whitehaven in a campaign which saw Barrow narrowly avoid relegation.

Barrow Raiders confirm departure of Wales international Ben Evans

Now 31, Evans – like sibling Rhys – started out with Warrington Wolves, progressing through the youth system at the Halliwell Jones Stadium to make a total of 22 appearances in-between loan spells at Bradford Bulls, Leigh – then Centurions – and Rochdale Hornets.

Departing Warrington on a permanent basis ahead of the 2017 season, the Bridgend-born ace moved to the capital and linked up with London Broncos. Winning promotion the following year with a shock win in the Million Pound Game away against Toronto Wolfpack, he would be let go, and instead of returning to the top flight, made the move to Toulouse Olympique.

Just 23 appearances in total for the French side followed before the COVID-19 Pandemic cut short the 2020 season, and he moved back over to England, re-joining Bradford on a permanent basis. In the two years which followed, Evans – who has played in three World Cups for Wales – would score five tries in 37 appearances, going on to link up with Barrow ahead of 2023.

Confirming the forward’s exit earlier today, the Raiders wrote on their website: “Barrow Raiders can confirm that Ben Evans has been released from the final year of his contract and will leave the club with immediate effect.

“The Wales international recently informed the club that he had been offered a dream job away from rugby which was closer to home, and that he would not be able to commit fully to the Raiders’ training schedule in 2024.

“Conversations were open and honest, and we understand Ben’s reasons for wanting to embark on this new opportunity.

“The decision has therefore been made to release the 31-year-old from the final year of his contract, and we wish both he and his family all the best for whatever comes next.”

Reinforcements promised by Barrow who ‘have already signed’ Evans’ replacement

Having been promoted as League 1 champions in 2021, the Raiders took the second tier by the scruff of their neck and finished 4th in 2022, beaten in the play-offs by Batley.

Accordingly, after a disappointing campaign this term, Paul Crarey’s men will hope for much better come 2024, as the Cumbrians look to strengthen off the field as well as on it to improve upon their mediocre initial IMG ranking.

Taking care of matters on the field, they say that Evans’ replacement has already been pinned down, and is one of three to have committed that are yet to be announced.

Their statement continues: “The club have already signed a replacement for Evans, which will be announced early next week.

“Pending the completion of paperwork, two more new signings will also be confirmed in due course as the Barrow Raiders squad continues to take shape ahead of the upcoming Betfred Championship season.”

READ NEXT: Five law changes approved by the RFL ahead of 2024 season including ‘Six Again’ rule, 18th man, ‘Reckless’ tackles