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Jon Clarke on a final mission
JON Clarke wants to cap his playing career by leading Widnes Vikings to a final after announcing he will retire at the end of the season.
The hooker has made more than 300 appearances in a career also spanning Warrington, Wigan and Great Britain.
And with Vikings hosting Championship outfit Keighley in the Challenge Cup quarter-final on Thursday, the skipper is eyeing a final visit to Wembley.
“I’ve been lucky enough to play there and lift it,” he said.
“I spoke to the boys and said my goal this year is to lead you lads out in a final.
“You never forget those days, the team and the friendships for life, that’s something special we can hopefully do together.”
Clarke is yet to decide on his future, but admits niggling injuries played some part in his retirement and that dropping into the Championship was never an option.
“That’s no disrespect to them,” he added. “If I’m retiring I wanted to finish and not drop down.
“I spoke to Denis and tried to put him in the picture early. I want to focus on the rugby, Challenge Cup quarter-final and the back end of the season our goal is to get in the play-offs.
“I’ve done a decent stint in the game and I’ve got no regrets, I’ve virtually ticked every box I wanted to over my career.
“I can retire at the end of the year hopefully with a smile on my face after doing something special with this team.”
Vikings boss Denis Betts paid tribute to his skipper, who joined him at the club three years ago.
“When he looks through his career he can be really proud of what he’s achieved, none more so than the three years he’s spent here,” said Betts.
“He’s helped me build something and create something and I’m glad he chose to take that step out of Warrington and come here.”
Clarke will miss Thursday’s tie, but Betts is confident the hooker, Hep Cahill, Phil Joseph and Joe Mellor are close to Super League returns.
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