Widnes appoint Simon Finnigan as new head coach

Former Widnes forward Simon Finnigan has left his role at Newcastle Thunder to become head coach of the Vikings.

Finnigan, 38, has signed a two-year deal with his old club and succeeds former Australia coach Tim Sheens, who resigned a month ago.

Finnigan, an Ireland international who had two spells as a player with Widnes, has spent the last two seasons as head coach of Newcastle and led them to the League One play-off final in 2019.

He also coached at Leigh and Toronto, where he was assistant to Paul Rowley, after ending a playing career that also took him to Salford, Bradford and Huddersfield, but he continued to live in Widnes.

“It is a massive honour,” said Finnigan, who was born in Warrington but raised in Australia. “I feel privileged to get this opportunity and it obviously means a lot to me.

“Yesterday was 19 years to the day that I came over to England and I have been in Widnes ever since. It is a privilege and an honour to be named head coach of the club.

“When the opportunity came up it was something I wanted to do straight away because this club means a lot to me.

“I cannot wait to be walking out in front of our supporters again. I am excited to be back at the club and I am excited to play my part in front of the fans again.”

Newcastle director of rugby Denis Betts, a former Widnes head coach, said: “Although we are disappointed Simon is moving on, we understand his reasons for doing so.

“Widnes is his hometown, he has played for the club and they are in the Championship. He leaves with our best wishes and we are sure he will make a big impression at the Vikings.

“Our attention now turns to a replacement for what is one of the most exciting coaching roles in rugby league. I’m sure it will generate a lot of interest and we look forward to the continued progress the Thunder are making.”

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