Widnes stave off rival interest to sign former NRL back-rower

Chris Houston

They had him in their sights and they got their man, as the Widnes Vikings staved off interest from rival Super League clubs and other NRL clubs, to sign veteran back-rower Chris Houston.

The veteran has signed a 2-year deal with the club and managed to secure a release from the final year of his Knights contract to make the move across.

For Houston, it was all about the new challenge that was ahead of him and after speaking with James Rule and Denis Betts about the club and what they represent, he was convinced they were the team for him.

“I wanted to come and meet Denis and the boys and get a feel for the Club before I committed my future to the Vikings,” said Houston.

“In the end, it wasn’t a hard decision to sign here after learning about the Club’s culture and values and seeing the fantastic facilities at the Club.

“I’m coming here to do a job. Super League is always something I have wanted to experience.

“It’s a challenge I’m looking forward to. There have been quite a few coaches at the Knights in recent years, so it’s been a bit of a transition each year.

The chance to play under a former back-rower in Betts and learn from him also played a part in the switch for Houston, who is excited to get his Widnes career underway.

“That’s one good thing about playing under Denis, being an ex-back rower there is plenty to learn off from him. It’ll be hard and it’ll be challenging, but I’m really looking forward to it,” said Houston.

“I’ve built my game around work rate and in my first six or so years of first grade as a back-rower, I played 80 minutes in the majority of the games. I like running lines off the half backs and I’m looking forward to playing with the half-backs here, they both look like quality players.”

It was all about job an team security for Houston, and he looks forward to moving his family across to begin the new adventure.

“This is a secure club with great facilities and a great future and I am glad to be part of the squad for the next few years,” said Houston.

“I am looking forward to moving my family over and getting stuck into the season ahead. I’ll be doing everything I can to help us make the top eight.”

The club are just as pleased to have him on board, knowing how much of a leader and veteran he is as a player and a person.

“Chris has got a fantastic pedigree, he’s a quality player and will bring great leadership skills,” said Betts.

“We’re really looking forward to bringing him over and having him as part of the squad in our pursuit of success.”

With the departure of fellow Australian Danny Galea, leadership is needed at the club and Houston will provide just that.

“People will think that because we’ve signed a back-rower, he is here to replace Danny Galea, but we were already pursuing Chris before Danny’s spot became available,” said Betts.

“We’re always looking at players and trying to improve the squad. It never stops, it’s a 24/7 thing, whether that be developing existing players or recruiting new ones. We will do what we can to make the squad and team better.”

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