Widnes Vikings as recently as 2018 were battling against the likes of Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors, Warrington Wolves and others in Super League.
In 2023 though they are struggling in the Championship and have parted company with John Kear.
There are talks of the club struggling financially which have been denied.
They were, however, down to just eight players for 2024 initially:
The Widnes captain continues at the club in 2024, ready to lead the Vikings from full-back once again after doing so 20 times in 2023. In his 20 appearances, Owens scored eight tries and kicked 17 goals, one of which was a drop-goal to amass 65 points in total for the season. With a three-month testimonial fast approaching, Jack is determined to help the Vikings have the best season possible, as the club enters a new era under Allan Coleman.
Joe Edge – 2023 Player’s Player and Coaches’ Player of the Year
‘Edgey’ came of age in 2023, picking up two end-of-season awards to conclude an outstanding campaign. Playing 28 matches across three different positions in the Vikings’ backline, the Widnes academy product scored seven tries and kicked 21 goals on his way to a career-best points tally of 70 for the season.
Allan Coleman commented on Edge’s impact, saying, “Joe is a player I am very excited to work with; this year he has shown the fans what a sensational talent he is. Last season, Joe covered several different positions, doing so with ease. It will be great for him, and for us, to focus on one, and excel in that role going forward.
He’ll be looking to continue his rich vein of form going into 2024, as his stature within the team grows.
Kieran Dixon – 2023 Fans’ Player of the Year
The flying Londoner will also stay a Viking going into 2024, and after top-scoring for Widnes with 16 tries in the season just gone, Dixon will be out to beat that tally next time round.
Incoming Head Coach Allan Coleman says, “it’s great to have Kieran on board with the team next year. He’s had a great season personally and is very popular with the fans, winning the supporters’ player of the year. His experience and quality out wide will be massive for the new look Vikings next season.”
The classy half-back provided much of the attacking impetus behind the Vikings’ best play last season, and added two match-sealing drop goals on his way to registering 44 points in just 17 appearances.
Returning to the club where he started his career last season, after spending three years on the other side of the Pennines, ‘Gilly’ will again be the Vikings’ creative fulcrum from half-back, having shown he’s a player whom new coach Allan Coleman can shape the team around.
After a mid-season loan to Super League side Castleford Tigers, Johnstone returns to the DCBL Stadium ready to go again in 2024. The dynamic hooker made 13 appearances for the Vikings before departing on July 4th, playing a further eight times at Wheldon Road to help keep Castleford in Super League.
With 2024 approaching fast, Johnstone is back the fold, looking to establish a starting position under Allan Coleman and play a key role as the Vikings mount a promotion push.
One of Widnes’ unsung heroes in 2023, Field made 24 appearances in his second season at the DCBL Stadium. His first five came from the bench, but following a try-scoring performance against Wests Warriors in the Challenge Cup, Field would nail down a starting front-row spot for all but one of his next 19 games.
The 25-year-old will face competition for his place in 2024, but given the form he’s shown over the past 12 months, Field should keep his position under lock and key to spearhead the new-look Widnes pack.
The 31-year-old’s debut season at the DCBL Stadium saw him make 22 appearances in 2023, usually coming off the bench to provide plenty of impetus after signing from Bradford last year.
Returning to the sport after being forced into an early retirement in 2017, Ant stays on with the Vikings for next season, continuing his career renaissance and bringing plenty of experience to Widnes’ new-look forward pack in 2024.
Academy product Tilleke will also remain in Vikings colours for 2024, following an injury-disrupted season which restricted the 23-year-old to just three first-team appearances in 2023. Also playing four games on loan at Rochdale this season, the front rower is keen to put the troubles of last season behind him, and establish a regular place in Widnes’ matchday squad.
Keep an eye out for more news on player retentions and arrivals in the coming days, as we gear up for what is set to be a very exciting next few months!
Fortunately, the club have now begun working to sign players and extend players who were in their 2023 squad.