NRC Preview: Widnes v Barrow

Widnes assistant coach Stuart Wilkinson believes last week’s Northern Rail Cup performances, in which the Vikings convincingly beat Gateshead and then drew 30-30 at Batley, provides plenty of hope for the year ahead.

Wilkinson said: “We played two games in five days and it was a first chance to have a look at everybody.

“We produced some exciting and inspirational stuff, with some of the new blokes doing some interesting things for us and inspiring some of the senior players. We had quite a successful week and we learnt a lot about our team.”

He added: “At Batley we had six 19-year-olds on the field at a very delicate point in the game and they provided us with some inspiration. We finished very strongly and were probably unlucky not to win the game. That gives us a lot of confidence for the coming weeks.”

Paddy Flynn, Richard Varkulis, Gareth Haggerty and Dean Gaskell all remain injured for the Vikings, while Liam Campbell is likely to be ruled out for Barrow after picking up a virus.

James Coyle (hamstring) and Michael Knowles (knee) will be assessed later in the week but Barrow coach Steve McCormack is expecting Jamie Rooney to return to the side after recovering from a chest infection.

McCormack said: “We were patchy against Blackpool last week. We played some very good stuff at times but then let ourselves down with poor execution.

“We had quite a few chances that we blew. We need an element of composure rather than trying to score off every play.”

On his return to Widnes, McCormack said: “I had three good years there and I’m looking forward to going back.”

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