All-time Best Super League XIII: Widnes Vikings

In this series, we put together the ultimate Super League starting 13’s for each club that has seen at least five seasons in the competition.

Today it’s the turn of Widnes, so here’s who we think would make their ultimate Super League XIII…

1. Rhys Hanbury

Australian fullback Hanbury signed for the Vikings upon their re-election to the Super League from Crusaders in 2012. He quickly became an important player for the Vikings, scoring his first try in a 44-16 defeat against Leeds and adding a further 12 to his total throughout the season, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Vikings from finishing bottom. He continued to be influential as Widnes consistently battled in and around the relegation places, however they did manage to reach the Challenge Cup semi finals in 2014 and finished in the top eight two years later. They were, however, relegated in 2018 and Hanbury retired that off-season.

Rhys Hanbury. Credit: News Images

Honourable Mention: Stuart Spruce, Danny Craven

2. Corey Thompson

Flying outside back Thompson arrived at Widnes ahead of the 2016 season from Canterbury Bulldogs. He was instrumental as Widnes made their best start to a season for a number of years, leading the competition heading into Easter. He spent two seasons in Cheshire, scoring 41 tries in 58 games, before returning to the NRL with Wests Tigers.

Honourable Mention: Paddy Flynn, Andrew Emelio

3. Stefan Marsh

Marsh signed ahead of the 2012 season and made an steady impact, scoring seven tries in his first year. He notched 10 the season after, including his first career hat-trick against Bradford. Arguably his best year was 2016 as he scored 12, before being a key part of the Vikings’ survival again the year after. He eventually left to sign for Leigh in 2018 following the club’s relegation.

Honourable Mention: Jason Demetriou, Chris Bridge

4. Adam Hughes

Hughes signed from Halifax ahead of the 2002 season and is still considered one of the club’s best centres of the modern era. He scored two tries on debut in a Challenge Cup game against Swinton Lions and that was a sign of things to come. In his first two seasons he was the Vikings’ top scorer, with returns of 20 and 17 respectively, which included a massive four-try haul against Leeds in ’02. Hughes continued to be a key figure in the squad but couldn’t prevent them from being relegated in 2005, which also spelled the end of his time at the club, as he left for Leigh.

Honourable Mention: Toa Kohe-Love, Aaron Moule, Charly Runciman

5. Patrick Ah Van

Patrick Ah Van. Credit: News Images

Powerful winger Ah Van joined the Vikings ahead of the 2012 season from Bradford. He scored on debut against Wakefield, and finished the season with an impressive 14 tries in 19 matches – his most productive season to date. The following season, he went two better, scoring 16, and scored six in five games in 2015 as the Vikings preserved their Super League status. He eventually left to join French side Villeghailhenc-Aragon in 2018 before returning to play for free when the club went into administration last year.

Honourable Mention: Jack Owens, Paul Devlin

6. Julian O’Neill

The Australian signed from Wigan mid-way through the 2003 season. A charismatic halfback, his first try came in a 26-6 victory over Wakefield Trinity and he went on to score in every game he played that year. He signed for Wakefield in 2005 before returning to Cheshire later in the year, with his only try coming in a 36-20 victory over Leigh. Widnes’ relegation prompted his departure though and saw him join the Centurions, finishing his time at Widnes with over 300 points in 43 games.

Honourable Mention: Kevin Brown, Owen Craigie

7. Joe Mellor

Mellor initially joined from Wigan in the 2012 season on loan, before signing permanently in 2013. The smart halfback enjoyed seven seasons at the club and was consistently impressive, scoring 57 tries in total and often topping the assists charts. He was key as the Vikings reached the Challenge Cup semi-finals in 2014 and struck up a good partnership with veteran Kevin Brown in his latter years at the club. Mellor was part of several escapes from relegation however, like several other players in this side, couldn’t prevent them from going down in 2018. He then left to join Toronto.

Honourable Mention: Stephen Myler, Gary Hulse, Willie Peters, Barry Eaton

8. David Mills

David Mills.

Son of Widnes legend Jim, Mills came through the club’s academy system and made his debut in 2002. He missed just one match in his rookie year and scored four tries. The Wales International continued to be an ever-present, playing every game in 2004, but was part of the Vikings’ side relegated from the Super League a year later. He then signed for Harlequins but was considered as one of Widnes’ top academy products and went on to have a fruitful career in Super League, the Championship and League 1.

Honourable Mention: Terry O’Connor, Jay Chapelhow

9. Shane Millard

Stocky hooker and USA international Millard signed ahead of 2003 from St George Illawarra Dragons. His first try came in a 26-18 defeat against Bradford Bulls and he ended that year with 10 tries. He continued to impress the following year, with arguably his most infamous moment coming during a game against Castleford, where he played on despite having a fragment of someone’s tooth embedded in his head. He spent one more year as a Viking, scoring eight tries, before joining Leeds for 2006.

Honourable Mention: Lloyd White, Phil Cantillon, Aaron Heremaia

10. Robert Relf

Australian prop Relf signed in 2002  from NRL side North Queensland Cowboys. He scored on debut in a 15-14 defeat to St Helens and played every single Super League game in his first two seasons. In 2004 he needed operations on both ankles and was unfortunately forced to retire.

Honourable Mention: Julian O’Neill, John Stankevitch, Gil Dudson

11. Daniel Frame

Australian Frame signed ahead of the 2002 season. He made an instant impact, scoring a try on his debut against St Helens, and finished the season with six tries. Frame was a versatile player, mainly operating in the back row but also deputising in the halves when needed, such was his technical skill. He spent four seasons with the Vikings, scoring 26 tries in 114 games, before retiring from the game at the end of 2005.

Honourable Mention: Dave Allen, Chris Dean, Frank Winterstein

12. Matt Whitley

Matt Whitley. Credit: News Images

A Widnes academy product, Whitley made his debut for the club in 2015 and scored on his first start against St Helens. An awkward-running forward, he soon made his way into the regular starting line-up and was awarded the no.12 jersey in 2016. For a long time he was one of Super League’s hottest young properties and Widnes’ relegation in 2018 prompted a move to Catalans, where he continues to impress now. He finished his time at the Vikings with 94 appearances and 17 tries.

Honourable Mention: Mick Cassidy, Andy Hay, Steve McCurrie

13. Simon Finnigan

Despite being born in Warrington, Finnigan signed for the Vikings as a 22-year-old from NRL club Penrith Panthers in 2003 having grown up in Australia. His first Vikings try came in his second game against Bradford and in 2004 he was able to hold down a regular spot, scoring eight tries. He continued to stand out for the following two years but, similar to Whitley in 2018, he left to join Salford when the club were relegated in 2005. He did return for a cameo spell in 2010 but retired shortly after and is currently head coach of Newcastle Thunder.

Honourable Mention: MacGraff Leuluai, Hep Cahill

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