Widnes Vikings have denied reports that the club are undergoing budgets cuts for their 2024 campaign following the departure of Jordan Johnstone to Castleford on loan.
The 26-year-old hooker returns to Super League for the remainder of the current campaign under Andy Last, having made 13 appearances for Widnes in 2023 upon his return from Hull.
He has one year remaining on his contract for 2024 at the DCBL Stadium.
In a statement released by the Vikings, head of operations Chris Hamilton rejected that the Championship outfit are currently planning on budget cuts.
Having broke the story of Johnstone’s move to Castleford on Monday, Examiner Live also reported that Widnes are expected to cut their playing budget next year with more than a handful of players without a deal beyond the current season.
The Vikings currently sit eighth on the Championship table but are closer to a relegation battle than the play-offs with 14 points, while York, Keighley and Swinton have all claimed six wins so far this season.
Newcastle Thunder sit at the bottom on five points, with Paul Crarey’s Barrow Raiders above with 11.
Despite appearing unlikely to make a play-off spot this year, Hamilton insists that there are no plans to make cuts and are expecting to announce the arrival of an ‘excellent’ replacement for Johnstone for the remainder of the season, with Wales international Matty Fozard also at the club.
The Vikings are also still on the search for their next permanent head coach following the departure of John Kear last week.
Widnes Vikings debut budget cuts
Following the exit of Johnstone on loan, Hamilton said in a statement: “The club were made aware of this just a few days ago and it is an opportunity that Jordan wants to take.
“He is 26 years old and feels that this is maybe his last chance to play in Super League. He wants to go and give it his best shot.
“Jordan Johnstone is still contracted with us for 2024 and will return for pre-season training.
“We have a very experienced hooker at the club in Matty Fozard and will also be bringing in another excellent hooker, which we hope to announce later.
“It is important to state that this is not a cost cutting exercise – this was not something the club have sought, and that the playing budget is not being cut for next year which some reports are mistakenly saying.
“We wish JJ well and remain 100% committed as a club to ensuring we end up in the highest possible league position come the end of this season.”
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