Championship move confirmed for Leigh Leopards utility, former Super League Grand Final winner

Ben Olawumi
Aaron Smith, RFL Championship badge

Aaron Smith will be a Barrow Raiders player in 2024 after completing his move from Leigh Leopards - Alamy

Leigh Leopards utility Aaron Smith has now completed his move to Championship outfit Barrow Raiders, penning a two-year deal at Craven Park.

At the back end of last week, Love Rugby League exclusively revealed Barrow’s interest in the 27-year-old, who featured just twice for Leigh in 2023 having been a pivotal part of their success the year prior as they gained promotion back to Super League.

While struggling for game time, Smith – who appeared in St Helens‘ 2019 Grand Final triumph at Old Trafford against Salford Red Devils – spent time out on loan in League 1 with Rochdale Hornets last year, scoring two tries in six appearances.

With nine tries in 41 senior appearances for Saints to his name, the Newton-le-Willows native – who has also featured as a loanee for both York & Featherstone Rovers – will now ply his trade in the Championship in 2024 with Paul Crarey’s side.

The Cumbrians finished 11th in 2023, staving off relegation as they survived by the margin of a single point.

Championship move confirmed for Leigh Leopards utility, former Super League Grand Final winner Aaron Smith

He could make his Raiders debut this Sunday as they kick off their 1895 Cup campaign away at Workington Town, with the competition adopting a new format involving group stages this year.

Speaking to the club’s website, Smith said: “I’m really looking forward to the journey ahead. It’s going to be a new challenge, but one that I’m really looking forward to.

Barrow are a club striving for success, and that’s what drew me in. I’ve struggled for game time over the last couple of years.

“No player wants to be sat in the stands, so to get this deal over the line and get consistency in my game will hopefully help me to improve.

“I had a chat with Paul Crarey earlier this week, and it got me excited for what we could do. Now it’s all about looking forward to getting started.”

Barrow boss sings praises of new recruit Smith: ‘A renowned playmaker’

Smith becomes Barrow’s 11th new recruit this off-season, and the latest since powerhouse Mike Ogunwole from the British Army earlier this month.

Having tied the latest addition down until the end of the 2025 season, Raiders boss Crarey said: “After lots of due diligence and patience, we are delighted to sign Aaron Smith from Leigh.

“Aaron is a Super League Grand Final winner from his time at Saints, where he was understudy to James Roby. He is a renowned playmaker who also knows his way to the try line.

“Alongside Josh Wood, we believe we will have two of the best hookers in the Championship this year. The two number 9s will complement each other perfectly, and we are excited to see him play in a Barrow shirt.”

Meanwhile, the Raiders’ Director of Rugby Andy Gaffney re-affirmed: “We have been on the lookout for a hooker and bided our time to bring quality in.

“Aaron certainly fits that bill, having played over 40 Super League games. We feel he will add a new and exciting dynamic to this group, and everyone at the club looks forward to seeing him hit the ground running in Raiders colours.”

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