Widnes Vikings in market for pack reinforcements after injury blow as coach addresses Gil Dudson links

James Gordon
Widnes Vikings badge, Allan Coleman, Gil Dudson

Widnes Vikings are hopeful of having Gil Dudson available on dual-registration from Warrington Wolves this season - Alamy

Widnes Vikings head coach Allan Coleman is on the look out for forwards to boost his pack ahead of the new Championship season after losing off-season signing Martyn Reilly to injury.

Reilly, 28, underwent major surgery before Christmas after suffering an ACL injury which will likely rule him out for most, if not all, of the 2024 season.

His injury is a significant blow to Coleman, with Reilly’s capture from Batley on a two-year deal one of Widnes’ key signings of the off-season.

Coleman said: “It’s a massive blow to be honest. I’m not going to paper over the cracks. He was probably our go forward middle and our leader in that middle.

“Have I replaced him yet? No. Will we replace him? We will along the way somewhere. We’re looking in the background at all options we can cover with that.

“I met with Chris Hamilton (head of operations) last week to discuss a couple of options, so we’re certainly looking and we’re exploring a lot of avenues.

“We’re fortunate that the league campaign only starts in March, so it gives us that little bit of grace. In an ideal world, we’d like them now, but we don’t live in an ideal world, so it’s certainly something we are looking at.”

Widnes Vikings in market for pack reinforcements after injury blow as coach addresses Gil Dudson links

A familiar face who could become an option for Coleman is Wales international Gil Dudson, who previously played for Widnes between 2015 and 2018.

Gil Dudson, Warrington Wolves.
Gil Dudson during pre-season training with Warrington – Photo courtesy of Warrington Wolves

There had been some speculation that Dudson could leave Warrington and revert to part-time rugby league, as he starts to prepare for life after rugby.

But sources say that Sam Burgess has been impressed by the former Wigan Warriors, Catalans Dragons & Salford Red Devils forward, and the departure of Sam Kasiano means there will likely be plenty of opportunity for him to feature for the Wolves.

Dudson could still feature for Widnes on dual-registration, after the clubs struck a partnership ahead of the 2024 campaign.

Coleman added: “I have spoke to Gil and he is someone we’d love at our club, with the experience he’s got and his stature and the way he plays the game and how aggressive he is.

Warrington have decided to keep him in that full-time environment, which is great. If he got offered to us (on dual-reg), that would be brilliant.

“But he’s certainly someone we’ve spoke about when he comes out of the full-time game.”

Son of former Great Britain international gets chance to impress with Widnes

Ahead of their pre-season friendly against Warrington tonight, Coleman has added young forward Charlie McCurrie to his squad.

McCurrie, who is the son of former Warrington and Widnes forward Steve, has been training with the Vikings for several weeks.

He has represented England Universities and plays in the community game for Latchford Albion.

Steve made more than 200 appearances for Widnes across two spells, including in their first stint in Super League.

He was on the bench for their last appearance in a Challenge Cup final, against Wigan in 1993, and played for Great Britain against France in the same year.

Other pack options for Vikings as head coach Allan Coleman provides injury update

Widnes have fielded Warrington youngsters Tom Whitehead and Lucas Green in their pre-season games against Workington Town and Whitehaven so far, though the pair will go up against the Vikings tonight in a youthful Warrington side.

Callum Field is still missing for Widnes through injury, though they do welcome back Liam Bent after a long lay-off. Field is expected to be fit in time for the 1895 Cup group stage.

Danny Langtree, Widnes Vikings badge
Danny Langtree has joined Widnes Vikings ahead of 2024 – Alamy

Back-rower Danny Langtree is still recovering from shoulder surgery, and is targeting a return ahead of the first Championship league game against Barrow Raiders on March 17.

Coleman added: “Callum Field is not fit yet but he’s only a week or two away. Langers is back training now, so he’ll be available for selection in four weeks time which is good for us. But there’s no rush on him, because our priority with Danny would be the league fixtures.

“Tom’s got a big future in the game. He’s a player I really admire. Lucas is a new player to me but I’ve watched him play a bit of Super League. Bringing them on board was getting a feel of us because potentially they might be on board with us.

“They’re going to be against us so it gives me a chance to look at them against the players I’ve got. It’s perfect for us, and Gary Chambers has been brilliant.

“When people do come in, my group of players have been amazing with Harvey Wilson from Wigan and the two guys from Warrington, making them feel so welcome.”

The end of the season saw several departures from Widnes, with no fewer than six forwards departing the DCBL Stadium.

Star forwards Owen Farnworth and Adam Lawton left for Oldham, while Aaron Brown and Lewis Hatton moved on to Keighley Cougars. Olly Davies has been snapped up by Halifax Panthers, while Shane Grady decided to hang up his boots.

To replace them, Widnes brought in Reilly (Batley), Langtree (Barrow), Liam Kirk (Sheffield Eagles), Rhodri Lloyd and Nick Gregson (both Swinton Lions).

READ NEXT: Widnes to host Challenge Cup third and fourth round draw as Championship and League 1 clubs prepare to enter competition