An ultimate 13 of rugby league players born in Widnes, including St Helens quintet

Drew Darbyshire
Mark Percival, Harry Smith, Jarrod O'Connor Widnes Alamy

From left to right: Mark Percival (St Helens), Harry Smith (Wigan) and Jarrod O'Connor (Leeds) in Super League action

Throughout the summer at Love Rugby League, we’re going to be taking a geographical tour of some of rugby league’s most famous towns and cities and compiling some dream line-ups comprising of active players.

Some places will unsurprisingly throw out star-studded sides with some of the best players in the world included. But some may surprise you about the quality of stars the area has produced: we started our feature series earlier this week with Halifax.

LRL RECOMMENDS: An ultimate 13 of rugby league players born in Halifax, including Wigan Warriors stars

Next up? Widnes, once known as a Lancashire town but these days comes under Cheshire. The town’s rugby league team, Widnes Vikings, might not be in Super League anymore but they – along with the local community clubs – have produced a number of international players over the years. Here’s our ultimate 13 of players born or raised in Widnes..

1. Jack Owens

Jack Owens Widnes Vikings Alamy

Born and raised in Widnes, Owens is the current club captain of his hometown club. The 29-year-old came through the ranks at the Vikings, making his first team debut in 2011. Owens spent two seasons at St Helens between 2016-17 and a season with Leigh in 2018, but other than that he has spent his entire career at Widnes, making more than 150 appearances for his boyhood club.

2. Ryan Ince

Ryan Ince Widnes Vikings Alamy

Ince is another academy product of the Vikings, scoring 31 tries in 46 games between 2016 and 2019. He went on to play for Leigh and Oldham but returned to his hometown club in 2022, where he remains today. He needs just one appearance to reach 100 for the Vikings.

3. Ben Davies

Ben Davies St Helens Alamy

Widnes-born Davies came through the academy at the Vikings, making his first team debut in 2019. He went on to join Super League giants St Helens ahead of the 2020 season, making more than 30 appearances so far in the Red V.

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4. Mark Percival

Mark Percival

Former England international Percival was born and raised in Widnes, playing his junior rugby for Halton Farnworth Hornets before joining St Helens’ academy. Percival is a one-club man with the Saints, scoring 119 tries and kicking 312 goals in 230 games to date.

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5. Jon Bennison

Jon Bennison St Helens Alamy
Jon Bennison in action for St Helens

Bennison was born and raised in Runcorn, a neighbouring town of Widnes. He was in the scholarship system at Widnes whilst playing for Thatto Heath Crusaders and joined Saints at academy level. Bennison is approaching 50 games for the Saints first team, playing in their Super League Grand Final win in 2022.

6. Harry Smith

Harry Smith Wigan Warriors Alamy
Harry Smith in action for Wigan Warriors in 2024

Smith is a proud Widnesian, playing his junior rugby for Halton Farnworth Hornets before joining Wigan’s scholarship at the age of 14. The 24-year-old, who has represented England on the international stage, has won a Super League title, Challenge Cup, League Leaders’ Shield and World Club Challenge with Wigan.

7. Lewis Dodd

Lewis Dodd St Helens Alamy

There will be a Widnesian playing in the NRL in 2025 in the shape of Dodd, who has signed a three-year deal with South Sydney Rabbitohs as of next season. The former Halton Farnworth Hornets junior came through the ranks at Saints, making 76 appearances in the Red V to date, playing in their 2021 Grand Final win at Old Trafford.

CONFIRMED: St Helens ace Lewis Dodd to join South Sydney Rabbitohs on long-term contract

8. George Delaney

George Delaney St Helens Alamy

Delaney, who is regarded as one Britain’s best young props, is another St Helens player who hails from Widnes. The 20-year-old has made more than 30 appearances for Saints since making his debut in 2022.

9. Chris Atkin

Chris Atkin Salford Red Devils Alamy

Salford utility back Atkin was born and raised in Widnes, and came through the academy at the Vikings as a youngster. He never played for his hometown club at first team level though, starting his professional career at Swinton Lions before getting his shot in Super League with Hull KR. The 31-year-old has been at Salford since 2020, playing 91 games fo the Red Devils so far.

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10. Jay Chapelhow

Jay Chapelhow Newcastle Thunder Alamy

Jay Chapelhow and his twin brother Ted are proud Widnesians, both progressing through the youth system at the Vikings. Jay played 81 first team games for Widnes whilst Ted played 60. They both left the Vikings in 2020, spending three seasons with Newcastle Thunder before joining Oldham ahead of this season.

11. Sam Walters

Sam Walters

Walters is another local product of the Halton Farnworth Hornets community club. He came through the Vikings academy alongside Jarrod O’Connor, with the pair being signed by Leeds when the Vikings were in a period of administration in 2019. After making 42 first team appearances for the Rhinos over five seasons, Walters made the move to Wigan ahead of this season.

12. Adam Lawton

Adam Lawton Widnes Vikings Alamy

The towering forward, who can play prop or second-row, was born and raised in Widnes, coming through the academy at the Vikings. He made his first team debut for his hometown club in 2013 before leaving the club the following season to go to Australia. Following a spell with Salford in 2019-20, Lawton retuned to Widnes in 2021, spending three seasons with the Vikings before joining Oldham ahead of this season.

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13. Jarrod O’Connor

Jarrod O'Connor Leeds Rhinos Alamy

Jarrod O’Connor, the son of former Great Britain and Ireland prop Terry, played his junior rugby for Halton Farnworth Hornets and came through the Widnes youth system. O’Connor moved to Leeds alongside Walters in 2019 when the Vikings were in a period of administration, and has since made 80 appearances for the Rhinos.


Danny Richardson, Ted Chapelhow, Olly Ashall-Bott, Matty Fozard.

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