Widnes have handed a two-year contract extension to young half-back Joe Mellor.
Mellor, 22, started all but one of the Vikings’ Super League games in 2013, scoring 13 tries and was voted Player of the Year by the club’s fans.
He first joined Widnes on loan in April 2011, and again in 2012, before signing permanently ahead of the 2013 season.
Head Coach Denis Betts said: “Joe is living proof of somebody who has made the most of an opportunity that was offered to him. Over the last couple of years, he has gone on to prove himself as a high-end Super League player, who also has a genuine aspiration to be a high-end player on the International stage.
“Initially, he joined us from Wigan ‘on loan’ because he realised that he needed a lot more game-time and a chance to make something of himself. From day one, he’s made the most of what was in front of him and come out of the other side, all the better for it.
“He is an extremely hard worker and he brings an immense amount of qualities to the group. He’s very exciting with the ball, his kicking game is improving vastly year on year, he’s as tough as teak defensively, very strong and plays far above his weight. Overall, he is a quality person too and it is great that he will be a part of our squad for the long-term.”
Mellor had caught the eye of the England Knights selectors, but was forced to make himself unavailable for selection due to a scheduled shoulder operation at the end of the season.
He said: “I’m really happy here at Widnes and even though I still had another year to go on my contract, I was really pleased to extend it for another two years after that.
“Time has really flown by since I first came to the club in 2011 and if I can get as much enjoyment out of the next three years, as I have the first couple, then I’ll be even happier.”