Barry spoke to Thirteen in 2005…
Date of Birth: 30/09/1973
Height: 5ft 8″
Weight: 13 Stone
Previous Clubs: Doncaster, Wakefield, Dewsbury, Castleford (Loan), Widnes
International: 5 Caps for Wales
Now in his third season with the Bulldogs, Barry Eaton has built a phenomenal reputation as one of the finest goal-kickers in the world of Rugby League today. Eaton’s first season at Mount Pleasant (2003) brought him International fame as he slotted over 38 consecutive goals, breaking the Henry Paul’s World Record of 35 which had been equalled by Hasem El Masri of the Canterbury Bulldogs only three days earlier. These 38 were part of a season’s total of 139, which broke the 8-year Batley club record of127 held by Simon Wilson.
Eaton’s record breaking form continued into the following season, as he surpassed his own record of the previous year. Eaton was successful on 144 occasions as Batley narrowly missed the National League One play-offs, and Eaton narrowly missed the clubs points in a season record.
Eaton has started off 2005 in a similar vein of form, and at the time of press had already scored 47 two-pointers, as Batley aim to improve on last season’s finish of 7th.
How has this season gone?
Obviously not as well as we’d have liked. It’s been a tough season and a fair old struggle but in fairness all but two of the games we have lost have been by margins of between six and 12 points. The exceptions being the away games at Halifax and Castleford. We need to start nicking some of these close games and picking up some points before the end of the season.
What are your hopes for the remainder of this season?
We want to avoid the relegation play offs with the second division sides firstly and start climbing the ladder. We may even sneak into the six but ultimately we want to stay away from relegation.
Who has been the biggest influence on your rugby league career and why?
I’ve taken something from all the players I’ve played alongside and all the coaches I’ve played under. I played under Neil Kelly for a long time so there’s him. I’ve taken lots of good things from him and learned from some of the things I felt he didn’t deal with in a good manner as well. At the start of my career there was Ian Brook. He was a big influence on my career and brought me back into the game after I’d been an apprentice footballer with Barnsley. I’d finished with rugby after school and it was Ian who talked me back into the game. I’ve had a decent career so I’ve got a lot to thank him for.
Who were your boyhood rugby league idols?
Peter Sterling, Wally Lewis, Andy Gregory and Shaun Edwards. I even like listening to Sterling’s NRL commentaries and hearing his thoughts on the game.
So all half backs…
Yes I’ve played scrum half from the age of six when I started playing. I’ve dabbled at hooker a few times in the last few years but I’ve been a mainstay scrum half all my career.
Who do you look up to in the modern game?
Paul Sculthorpe. A massively influential player with great skills but also with the tenacity to get his team out of a hole when things aren’t going well. He’s got pace, power, strength and skill.
What has been your best moment in rugby league?
Winning the Grand Final with Dewsbury against Leigh at Gigg Lane. Probably more so because we’d lost it the year before. It was a massive achievement for us. There’s also playing for Wales against New Zealand at the Millenium Stadium. That’s probably my biggest game to date. Another one that sticks out is beating Leeds away in Widnes’s first season in Super League. That was a massive achievement. We beat them at home as well and in South Africa in a pre season friendly.
So were you disappointed that Dewsbury were denied access to the Super League?
Well at the time we believed we’d be accepted. According to Neil Kelly everything was geared towards Super League and that was his and our ambition. Obviously the ground was never going to be good enough but we’d made plans to go and play at the Don Valley Stadium for a year. As far as I’m aware that was the reason we didn’t get in. It wasn’t logistically or geographically possible for us to play there. So it wasn’t to be. It led to a little bit of a demise at the club but hopefully they’re on their way back now.
And your worst time in the game?
Probably the 1994-5 season at Doncaster when we’d been promoted. I remember playing at Central Park in front of about 16,000 and it was superb. But the financial problems led to the demise of the club that season and we lost players like Vila Matautia. We were basically just scraping around for a side and getting beaten by sixty or seventy points every week. That season was probably the lowest point of my career.
Who’s been your most difficult opponent?
I’d have to say Keith Senior. When I played against him for Widnes I would defend on the right opposite him at left centre. He was very difficult to keep hold of. He’s a great player and I’ve got great admiration for him.
What do you remember about your games for Wales?
The one at the Millenium Stadium against New Zealand stands out but so does the game against England at Wrexham in 2001. We weren’t given any chance but almost came up with a result. I was shattered after the game, made about 35 tackles! I signed for Widnes shortly afterwards.
What is the difference in the standards between Super League and National League One?
Super League is far more athletic and all about pace and power. There’s probably as skilful a player in the National Leagues but it’s just the execution of the skills that’s a bit better in Super League and of course you’re playing alongside full time professionals in Super League which allows you to express your skills better. It’s very difficult for a National League Club to match up to a Super League club.