Widnes up for the cup

Widnes hooker Mark Smith believes Saturday’s Carnegie Challenge Cup fourth round tie against Lezignan represents a golden opportunity for the Vikings to prove the scale of their ambitions.
 
The Co-operative Championship club has ambitions to secure an Engage Super League licence and Smith feels the Cup tie is an ideal chance for him and his team-mates to show they are ready to make the step up.
 
Winning the Northern Rail Cup last year has already given Widnes the go-ahead to apply for a three-year licence from 2012 but a run in the sport’s greatest knockout competition will really have people sitting up and taking notice.
 
“Hopefully we can beat Lezignan and then get a Super League side in the next round and show what we are about,” said Smith.
 
“What will surprise a lot of people is that clubs in our League are not bothered who they get and at Widnes we are happy to play anybody.
 
“It would be nice to show the level we play at and the importance of our game. A lot of players in our League are capable of playing in Super League.
 
“I certainly want to be back playing in Super League and hopefully that will be with Widnes.”
 
While a good Cup run will catapult Widnes back into the wider public eye, Smith is certainly not taking anything for granted in Saturday’s clash with their French rivals.
 
He said: “I have tasted both extremes of the Cup. I won the Cup with Wigan in 2002 and that was probably the highlight of my career.
 
“But two years later I had the disappointment of us losing in the final, so I know both the highs and the lows. The Cup is special, though, and every year special things happen.”
 
Smith’s Cup experiences with Widnes have also followed a rollercoaster path, both beating Super League clubs and suffering the embarrassment of the 2005 televised defeat by Toulouse.
 
Smith added: “We were beaten by the better team on the day but that’s the magic of the competition. It’s a one-off game and anything can happen.”
 
Lezignan have only reached the fourth round once before, going down 46-6 away to Whitehaven.
 
The Vikings will be hoping to put a similar score past the French, but Smith is urging the fans to help them on their way.
 
He said: “Lezignan are a massive unknown quantity. The French as a nation are improving massively and quickly and we know Lezignan have some quality players.
 
“They will be rough and tough, and big hard men, but we are ready for them and hopefully our fans will turn out in force. They are as good as any fans.”

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