NRC Preview: Widnes v Gateshead

Vikings’ assistant coach Stuart Wilkinson could be without up to five senior players for Sunday’s showdown with Gateshead.

Paddy Flynn and Gareth Haggerty have still not recovered from undisclosed injuries while Toa Kohe-Love, Dean Gaskell and Richard Varkulis are all facing an uphill struggle to be fit.

On Gateshead, Wilkinson said: “I thought they were the surprise package last year in the Co-operative Championship.

“I thought they were very good and I won’t be surprised if they do well again this year. I like the enterprising and exciting way they play.

“We’ve got a lot of respect for them but at this time our focus will mainly be on ourselves and what we can do better.”

Gateshead duo Karl Brandt and Matt Garside (hernia) are both about a month away from returning to competitive action, according to Thunder coach Chris Hood.

Hood will also monitor Tabua Cakacaka after the prop forward suffered concussion during a training match against Hull KR last week.

Hood said: “We’ve got a fantastic feel throughout the club. Everybody is looking in the same direction and it’s a nice club to be at.

“We played against Widnes last year and we know what to expect from a lot of their players. All the lads are up for it.

“We know we’re not going to win the NRC but we’ll give it 110 per cent and treat it with the respect it deserves as we continue our development.”

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