WIDNES Vikings prop-forward Steve Pickersgill has announced his retirement from the game with immediate effect.

Pickersgill’s last 12 months at the Vikings have been punctuated with injuries to his neck and knee and the front-rower hasn’t been able to make an appearance during this First Utility Super League campaign as a result.

And after lengthy talks with the Vikings' coaching team, medical staff and his family, 28-year-old Pickersgill has made the difficult decision to hang up his boots.

“Due to the injuries I’ve suffered over the past few seasons, my family and I have decided that now is the time to retire from the game,” Pickersgill said.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time in professional Rugby League, especially the five years at Widnes Vikings.

“I just want to take this opportunity to thank everybody at the Club and especially the players I have played alongside. It’s now time for me to move on and begin a new chapter in my life and I would like to wish Widnes Vikings all the best for the future and hopefully silverware isn’t too far away.”

Denis Betts, Widnes Vikings Head Coach, said: “It’s been a very difficult decision for Steve to make and it will be sad to see him retire from the game. He’s given great service to the Club over a number of years and we wish him well for the future and whatever direction he takes.”

Life at Widnes started in May 2009 for Steve when he joined the club, initially on loan, from near-neighbours Warrington Wolves.

His powerful presence contributed heavily to the Club’s Northern Rail Cup success that year and having made his first appearance in a major Cup Final, the prop forward ended the season with a winner’s medal for his efforts.

The Warringtonian was a big part of the Vikings establishing themselves in Super League back in 2011. He made 123 career appearances, 82 for the Vikings where he scored six tries.