After suffering relegation last season, Widnes are no doubts another one of the favourites for promotion this year. However, with less chance of promotion happening it will not be an easy task for the Vikings.
Their is a great deal of uncertainty around Halton Stadium at the moment with former CEO James Rule now departing nobody is really sure who will take the club forward.
The only way to put the off-field antics behind them is to perform on the park and new head coach Kieron Purtill has been tasked with that job and he must deliver.
On paper, It will be an easier job than at his former club Leigh Centurions. However, Leigh’s failure to succeed in 2018 emphasised just how traumatic relegation can be, Purtill will have hoped he can avoid that with the Vikings.
The Vikings’ haven’t gone all out and spent big though, heavily relying on their academy and younger players for the upcoming season.
Anthony Gelling and Adam Tangata are the two biggest signings for the Vikings and alongside with them alongside Harrison Hansen they have managed to recruit well during the close-season.
12 members of their 27-man squad are 22 years old or younger. In an extremely physical league Widnes could be putting a lot of pressure on their youngsters and it is risky.
They did manage to retain Hep Cahill, Krisnan Inu and Chris Dean from last season. However, concerns do remain. Neither Cahill, or Dean, managed to play more than 20 games last season and new signing Adam Tangata also played less than 20 games a year during his time at Halifax.
If these four players can play more than that this season then Widnes will be successful despite the losses of Joe Mellor, Danny Walker and Matt Whitley.
Widnes face a tough start to the season with Halifax, Toulouse and Toronto being their first three games so in order to put pressure on the top four spots they will need to come through those fixtures with at least four points. If they don’t, comparisons with last season’s Leigh Centurions side will come back almost instantly.
Olly Ashall-Bott, Ryan Ince, Krsinan Inu, Anthony Gelling, Jack Owens, Danny Craven, Tom Gilmore, Jay Chapelhow, Liam Hood, Adam Tangata, Harrison Hansen, Chris Dean, Hep Cahill, Wellington Albert, Jordan Johnstone, Macgraff Leuluai, Sam Wilde, Ted Chapelhow, Brad Walker, Owen Farnworth, Joe Lyons, Owen Buckley, Liam Walsh, Keenan Brand, Lloyd Roby, Dan Norman, Sam Feeeman.
Adam Tangata (Halifax), Anthony Gelling (New Zealand Warriors), Liam Hood (Leigh Centurions), Jack Owens (Leigh Centurions), Dom Speakman (Dewsbury Rams)
Chris Houston (Retired) Gil Dudson (Salford Red Devils), Rhys Hanbury (released), Matt Whitley (Catalans Dragons), Joe Mellor (Toronto Wolfpack), Tom Olbison (Toronto Wolfpack), Patrick Ah Van (released), Danny Walker (Warrington Wolves), Lloyd White (Mackay Cutters), Charly Runciman (released), Alex Gerrard (released), Stefan Marsh (Leigh Centurions).