An exciting looking Widnes Vikings squad, led by Simon Finnigan, look set for a competitive return in 2021.
Though they have struggled in recent years, the Vikings have a healthy mix of experience and youth in their team that could trouble many.
Here is how they should line up this season.
Full-back: Jack Owens
An easy selection. In his second spell at the club, Jack Owens has managed over 600 points for the club so far. With an ability to score tries as well as kick goals, Finnigan will no doubt hope Owens will stay fit and feature regularly if Widnes are to compete.
Wingers: Lloyd Roby & Deon Cross
Youngster Lloyd Roby knows his way to the try line and has plenty of promise to offer the club. Deon Cross has scored plenty of tries during his career thus far and with his size and skill, will be a suitable choice in Finnegan’s side.
Centres: Jake Spedding & Steve Tyrer
Jake Spedding has experience with St Helens, Sheffield Eagles and Featherstone Rovers and has shown promise that could be utilised in full for the Vikings. Steve Tyrer has been a points machine during his career so far. Having scored over 2250 points between St Helens, Halifax and his first spell at Widnes, Tyrer still has more to offer the sport and the game with his support play and experience.
Stand-off: Danny Craven
Entering his 12th season at Widnes, Danny Craven is arguably in the prime of his career and should feature regularly for the Vikings.
Scrum-half: Matty Smith
At age 33, Matty Smith is still active in the sport and given his previous Grand Final wins with Wigan Warriors, his skill will be valuable to the team in 2021.
Props: Paul Clough & Matt Cook
Another “old dog” Paul Clough has over 300 professional appearances in his career so far. He has shown his capability at prop, going forward and in defence. Matt Cook has enjoyed a rather successful career at the top level, having been a consistent performer with Hull KR, Bradford, London and Castleford and now his latest mission is to help Widnes go up a league for the third time.
Hooker: Logan Tomkins
Given his previous experience in Super League between Wigan and Salford, Logan Tomkins will be a regular. Though he could not get going in 2020 due to the cancellation of the Championship, Tomkins could really thrive considering his hunger for a return to action.
Second-row: Shane Grady & Adam Lawton
In his second spell for the Vikings, Shane Grady has been an efficient player during his career, having helped previous club Halifax up to the Super 8s Qualifiers more than once. Adam Lawton previously played for the club in Super League and now is back after various loan spells and should provide some power in the back-row in 2021.
Loose-forward: Kenny Baker
An easy choice, Kenny Baker has made 84 appearances, scoring 32 tries and will complete the starting line-up heading into the new season.
Having possessed over a decade of experience in Super League, Lee Jewitt, at the age of 34, still has more to offer the sport. Plenty of power to bring off the bench as well as having another ‘wise head’ in the team will be crucial to the Vikings heading forward.
Having spent time at Salford and Featherstone, Connor Dwyer has been given a chance by Finngan for another shot at the ‘big time’. Dwyer has shown promise coming off the bench at hooker, something every club needs during the modern game.
Alongside Jewitt, youngster Owen Farnworth can balance out the average age of props when coming off the bench. The 22-year-old is in his fifth professional year with the club and will only improve from here on in, especially against difficult opposition that will push his tenacity to its limits.
Someone who can rotate and cover the back line, young Joe Lyons is that man. Having gone professional in 2018, Lyons stayed with the club and his loyalty could well be rewarded in the not so distant future.