Widnes offer contracts to every player aged 22 and under for 2019

Drew Darbyshire

Widnes have offered contracts to all players aged 22 and under for next season, and the players have 30 days to decide their future.

Earlier this month, the Vikings offered to maintain the contracts of this cohort of young players, who have come through the youth system.

By making this commitment, the club’s aim is to secure the services of the players who can support the bid for immediate promotion back to Super League in 2019.

On the decision to offer all players aged 22 or under new deals, Vikings’ chief executive James Rule said: “Our young players have been the defining success of the club’s strategy in recent years and our youth performance team have invested years in their development, so it is important that we aim to uphold their contracts.

“Several weeks ago, we made a statement of intent by offering to honour the Super League contracts of these young men, irrespective of whether we remained in Super League or were relegated to the Championship. We wanted to demonstrate by our actions how highly we value them and our firm belief that they are the foundations upon which we can re-build the club. We look forward to confirming which of these young players have stepped up and made a commitment to our club as a consequence of our offer.

“We are now also in the process of having the individual conversations with senior players and staff alike, to establish who will remain with the Club, whilst also exploring external recruitment opportunities. With a 30-day window in which both players and the club can confirm their intention to renew or terminate contracts, the futures of all existing contracted players must be determined within the next month.

“These are critical weeks for the club, as we look to retain our best young talent and ensure that we have skilled and experienced senior players alongside them in our bid to return to Super League. Understanding our likely available budget for 2019 is vital to this process.”

This means the likes of Danny Walker, Matt Whitley, Jordan Johnstone and Ryan Ince have all been offered deals to stay at the club.