Former Wales international Jake Emmitt says there’s a great passion for rugby league in Cumbria.
Emmitt, 33, began his career at St Helens, featuring in their Grand Final appearance in 2010 against Wigan.
The forward has enjoyed more than 250 career appearances, and most recently playing for Barrow in 2021.
The utility forward was a part of their League 1 winning side, signing under Paul Carey mid-way through the season.
He helped the side lift the League Leaders’ Shield, securing their return to the Championship.
Speaking to Love Rugby League about his career, soon to come on the official podcast, Emmitt discussed the love for rugby league up North.
Jake Emmitt on passionate Cumbria
“I had a great time at Barrow,” Emmitt said. “I’d never played for a Cumbrian club before, but you don’t realise the passion until you get there.
“It’s really good. I hope Cumbrian rugby goes from strength to strength as well.
“There’s a market for it. I don’t think you’ll ever get them to merge.
“It’s a different breed up there. I hope all the Cumbrian sides do well.”
All three sides in Workington, Whitehaven and the Raiders currently feature in the Championship competition in 2022.
The latter remain undefeated in their current campaign, most recently impressing against Widnes on Premier Sports.
Retirement and part-time rugby league
Emmitt has enjoyed a 14-year career, and confirmed his retirement from the sport.
He has featured for nine clubs, including Leigh, Salford and Toronto. He also won six caps for Wales across his career.
The former Castleford and AS Carcassonne man had returned to rugby union side Lymm RFC in 2021, before being tempted back to the sport with Barrow.
However, the forward believes it’s time to hang up the boots.
“I guess it is, without saying a retirement,” he said.
“I kind of want to ride out into the sunset, like a cowboy when they ride off.”
He jokingly added: “Please don’t phone me up. If I see (Gary) Wheeler message me privately and not in a group, I’m thinking ‘please don’t ask me to play again!’.
“I’ve said to him, phone me in July after my holiday! That’s me done. I enjoy my weekends now. I’ve never had a summer holiday. I’ve never been on holiday longer than two days.”
‘They deserve more than they get’
Emmitt has also praised part-time rugby league players. He continued: “I only did that last year part time, playing and working.
“Fair play to the lads that have done that for over ten years. That is giving up a hell of a lot. The sacrifices their families must make. I know they’re getting money, so you’ll do anything for your family kind of thing.
“But fair play to them. They deserve more than they get.”