Jack Owens says it’s high time Widnes Vikings made a challenge for Betfred Super League rugby again ahead of a compelling Championship season in 2023.
The Vikings haven’t made it to the play-offs in the second tier since their relegation from the top flight in 2018, and local lad Owens agrees that a club the size of Widnes needs to be making a tilt for Super League once more this season under experienced coach John Kear.
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“It’s massive. Everyone knows Widnes Vikings, it’s a massive rugby league name,” the 28-year-old tells The Sportsman. “Part of that is down to the fans, as we do have a large support base and we hope we do pay them back in some respect this year. We have got the squad capable of doing that, and we’ve got to take it week by week but we’re planning on doing it.
“Everyone’s buzzing around the place. We’ve been through the mill a bit in the last three or four seasons, but to be totally honest with you we’ve underachieved as well, we can’t use that as an excuse as to why we’ve not performed on the pitch.
“John came in halfway through last year and I think you’ve seen some improvements in the way we want to play, with a bit more of a defensive attitude towards the game so we’re really looking forward to the start of 2023.”
Owens is now one of the elder statesmen in the Widnes squad, having made his debut in 2011, and as somebody who once sat in the stands at Halton Stadium the full-back says nobody is more eager than him to get the Vikings firing once more.
“I am getting a bit more experienced now, it was a bit of a bad year last year with injuries because I only played about eight games and didn’t perform as well as I wanted to, so I’m raring to go this year and with some of the signings that we’ve made it’s taken that excitement on even further.
“I grew up sat in that North Stand watching Widnes, I’ve watched them in the Championship when we got promoted against Oldham [in Rochdale in 2001]. I remember going down to the stadium the day after and they had a bit of a party on the pitch and as an eight or nine-year-old I was buzzing to be there.
“As a Widnes lad there’s probably that bit more urgency for me to get us there quicker but we have got a really tight group this year and everyone’s buying into the same cause. I think they feel that the town is ready for it.”
The Vikings begin their 2023 campaign on Sunday when they travel to the LNER Community Stadium to face York Knights.
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