Relegated Widnes have announced Kieron Purtill as the club’s new head coach.
Purtill, 41, joins from Championship rivals Leigh and replaces Francis Cummins, who took over from Denis Betts on an interim basis midway through last season.
He said: “It is a huge honour to take on this position at such an illustrious club. To have a successful team, you need players who have honesty and a strong work ethic, coupled with talent – I know that this will certainly be the case with the squad at Widnes Vikings. It is exciting for me to have the opportunity to build upon the years of hard-work at the club and to work alongside some very skilled and passionate people.
“Whilst the Vikings are experiencing the challenges of relegation, I believe that we will see many positives come from this difficult moment. This is an opportunity to make a fresh start, with players who are more experienced for the recent challenges and motivated to put things right.
“We need to create a new chapter in the history of Widnes Vikings, with everyone – players, staff, supporters and sponsors – all working together with the intention of returning to the Super League for 2020. Clearly, we have a big challenge ahead of us, but this is something that should motivate us all.
“We are looking to work hard, do the right things – both on and off the pitch, and to give this everything that we can. There’s no doubt that we will face a lot of competition, but I relish big games and I want Widnes Vikings to be a team that are feared by others.
“Widnes Vikings are a proud club, and everyone playing for the club will understand what the team means to its community. I personally know that I am following in the footsteps of some great people and I have tremendous respect for the heritage of this club. I am looking forward to working with the players, staff and partners of the club to help create an exciting future.”
Purtill took over as head coach at Leigh in the early stages of last season and led them on a fine run until the end of the Championship regular season, though it wasn’t enough to earn them a top four place.
He has previously been head coach of England Knights, as well as holding assistant roles at St Helens and Huddersfield.
Widnes will play in the Championship next season for the first time since 2011, after they were relegated via The Qualifiers.