Defending Super League champions St Helens have signed winger Tee Ritson, who was the leading try-scorer in the 2022 Championship season with Barrow and follows in the footsteps of former fleet-footed Cumbrian Ade Gardner.
The 26-year-old, who scored 33 tries in 31 appearances for the Raiders in 2022, has joined Sainst on a season-long loan for 2023 with an option to make the deal permanent.
Ritson, who has played internationally for Thailand, will help plug the gap created by the departure of Wales international Regan Grace to French rugby union club Racing, although his number five shirt has gone to Jon Bennison.
New St Helens head coach Paul Wellens said: “Tee is a player we’ve been watching a lot this season, especially once we knew we’d be looking at the season with one less winger and needed more competition in the squad.
“His pace and athleticism are there for everyone to see. He has a great work ethic and a fantastic attitude which I’m sure will see him continue to develop with us at Saints over the coming season.”
Ritson, who started his career at Workington and also played for Newcastle before joining Barrow, said: “This is an absolute dream come true for me.
“It’s always been an ambition of mine to play in the Super League and now I have the opportunity to do so for the best team in the league. It’s an incredible feeling and I’m grateful for this opportunity.”
Barrow chairman Steve Neale says his club have an option of recalling the player if he fails to make the Saints squad.
Neale said: “After Tee’s fabulous season for the Raiders, we had multiple Super League clubs expressing an interest in signing him, but both Barrow Raiders and Tee think that this is the best possible deal.
“Tee had a Super League release clause, so the club were powerless to stop a move, and we wouldn’t want to get in the way of Tee’s ambition, given how much he has done for the club with his exceptional community work complimenting his on-field performances.
“The deal gives a safety net for Tee in that if he doesn’t make the Saints’ squad then Barrow have the option of recalling him to play for the Raiders.
“Should things work out then Saints have the option to buy out the third year of Tee’s Barrow contract, but if he fails to make the grade then he can return to us.
“We obviously wish Tee well, and we hope he makes the grade and fulfils all his dreams.”