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Widnes Vikings skipper Jon Clarke announces retirement

Hanging his boots up - Jon Clarke Credit: PA Pictures

Widnes captain Jon Clarke is to bring his 18-year playing career to a close at the end of the season, the former Great Britain hooker has announced.

The 35-year-old is one of the game's longest-serving players, having begun his career with his home-town club Wigan in 1997, but has decided to hang up his boots in October.

"I've decided this is going to be my last season," Clarke said.

"I've been thinking about it for a little while now and, having made the decision, I thought it was the right time to get it out there so that I can concentrate on rugby between now and the end of the season.

'Time to get out' - Jon Clarke Credit: PA Pictures

"I feel like the time is right, with the little injuries here and there and the psychological impact that that has. The way the body feels after playing, you are constantly trying to recover, it all just tells you the time is right to pack it in at the end of the year."

Clarke, who also played for London Broncos and Warrington, with whom he lifted the Challenge Cup in 2009 and 2010, still has unfinished business after helping the Vikings make their best-ever start to a Super League campaign and the last-eight of the Challenge Cup.

He will miss Thursday's Cup quarter-final against Keighley with the calf injury that forced him to sit out his club's last two league games but is hoping to return a week later and would love to bow out with another major trophy.

Widnes have already recruited a replacement in Hull hooker or half-back Aaron Heremaia, while coach Denis Betts has other options for the hooking role in Lloyd White and Grant Gore.

Prop Ben Kavanagh signs new deal with Widnes Vikings

Signed and sealed - Ben Kavanagh Credit: Widnes Vikings

Widnes Vikings prop Ben Kavanagh has extended his deal at the Club.

Kavanagh, aged 26, has been with the Vikings since the start of the Steve O’Connor’s administration and has developed under Head Coach Denis Betts into one of the best young front rowers in Super League.

The Halifax-born prop initially joined the Vikings in 2008 on loan from Wigan Warriors but now, with 148 appearances under his belt, he says he is ready to make the next push in his career on the back of a hugely successful Rugby League World Cup 2013 with Scotland.

Kavanagh said: “I’m really enjoying my Rugby League at Widnes and I’m excited about the future and what we could achieve here.

“I’m over the moon to sign. It’s good that it’s now out of the way as I can concentrate on my Rugby League. I’m happy with my form at the moment but there’s much more to come from me and I’m keen to show the supporters what I can do.

“Widnes is a really big Club and you can see the great strides we’ve made since coming into Super League and what’s happening now.''

“We want to be up there and all the boys are working hard to get us to the top.”

Denis Betts, Vikings Head Coach, said: “Ben’s been in our thoughts throughout the process of signing and retaining players. He’s a player who has established himself in the Scotland squad and he had a great World Cup but also there’s still a lot of potential in him.

“He’s a big man who has lots of ability and skill and we need to keep extracting that out of Ben and that’s only going to benefit him and make the team better.

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Vikings cook up funds for community

Players prepared meals to raise funds Credit: ITV

Widnes Vikings fans have been able to see their favourite stars in a different light.

Players have been cooking up a storm at a restaurant in the town.

It is all part of a fund raising campaign for the club's community programme.

Players prepared meals to raise funds Credit: ITV

Widnes ban two fans for life after 'crowd disturbance'

Widnes have issued life-time bans to two fans as a result of a crowd disturbance during the Vikings' recent 72-10 defeat at Hull.

Ian Hansen and Liam Riccio will be prevented from attending all Widnes games at The Select Security Stadium.

"After a thorough investigation involving dialogue with Halton Borough Council, officials at the KC Stadium and the police, we have actioned these banning orders.

"As I have repeated on numerous occasions in recent weeks, the vast majority of our fans are a credit to the club and support us passionately both home and away.

"However, a small minority have brought the club into disrepute. We will not stand by and let this minority damage the good name and reputation of the Widnes Vikings."

Rule said his club are continuing their investigations into the recent crowd trouble in the derby against Warrington at the Halliwell Stadium a week ago.

"I can confirm that, based on the information we have received, further banning orders will be issued in due course," he added.

"Together, we will stamp out this minority and protect the reputation of our club."

– Vikings chief executive James Rule

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Injury problems for Widnes

Rhys Hanbury - out after pulling hamstring
Rhys Hanbury - out after pulling hamstring Credit: PA/Neal Simpson/EMPICS Sport

Widnes Vikings have a series of injury problems ahead of Friday's Super League visit to St Helens.

Half-back Rhys Hanbury is out after pulling a hamstring and Willie Isa has also been ruled out with a shoulder injury.

Patrick Ah Van and prop Ben Cross are also unlikely to feature and both will have scans on knee injuries sustained against Wakefield last time out.

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