BLOCKBUSTING young prop forward Tom Walker is Whitehaven’s first signing for their return to the Championship next season.

Walker has been playing in the second-tier with Barrow Raiders, but has now signed a two-year deal with the Recreation Ground club. It completes a “full house” of Cumbrian pro clubs for Walker who started his professional career with Workington Town in 2015.

Since then, Walker has made 123 appearances, scoring 11 tries for Town and Barrow, and was part of the Raiders squad that defeated Whitehaven in the League One promotion final in 2017.

After signing his deal with Haven, Walker, 24, said: “I just can’t wait to get started.

“I’ve been keeping an eye on the club all year and they’ve done well in winning the League One title to gain promotion.

“I’m looking forward to working under Charlo [Gary Charlton, head coach] and Jonty [Gorley] as I believe massively in a local-based team and what they are doing is working really well. I’m looking forward to catching up with old friends and former team-mates.

“Most importantly, I’m looking at retaining our Championship status, and giving a few teams a shock, especially when they have to travel up here to the Recre to meet the solid, local, team we have.”

Assistant coach Gorley said: “It’s great to have Tom as our first close-season signing.

“I think it sends out a message that we are a club which is going local again and the acquisition of someone of Tom’s calibre proves this.

“Tom is a formidable front-rower who has played in the Championship for the last five seasons. His defence is solid and, front on, he can be quite a force. He can do big minutes as well, as he proved at Barrow last year.

“As a front row, he’s still to reach his full potential as he is only in his mid-20s.”