WIDNES skipper Jon Clarke is calling on the supporters to get behind the Vikings this Sunday as they prepare for their biggest game in years.
The Vikings lock horns with high-flying Castleford in the semi finals of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup at Leigh Sports Village, kick-off 3pm.
Clarke, who is to retire at the end of the season after 18 years at the top, is determined to steer the Vikings to victory this Sunday as he looks to bow out with a Wembley appearance and a play-off spot at the end of the current Super League campaign.
And the hooker, who also played for London Broncos, Wigan Warriors and Warrington Wolves, with whom he lifted the Challenge Cup in 2009 and 2010, says the fans will play a big part in the Sunday’s hugely important game.
He said: “Obviously this is one of the biggest weeks of the season for us. We have worked hard all year to get ourselves competing at the business end of the season and there’s no doubt that this Sunday’s game with Castleford is massive for the club.
“The players are all aware of how big a game this is. I was fortunate enough to be in the Warrington side that won the Challenge Cup in 2009 and 2010 and I know what it can do for a town.
“I’ve spoken in the past about how important the fans are and that the club and the people of Widnes deserve success. The players will be giving it everything at the weekend to ensure that we get to Wembley.
“The supporters have been with us every step of the way this year. We started our Challenge Cup journey at the start of the season at Halifax and they turned out in numbers for that one, and have backed us all the way from there to our game at Salford and then the quarter-final at Keighley at the Select Security Stadium.
“The atmosphere we created for our home game against the Cougars was pretty special and I know the supporters will be in good spirits and in big voice on Sunday.
“We were looking to make some good progression this year and making the Challenge Cup Final would definitely be a good progression.”
Clarke, who was part of the Great Britain side that beat France and New Zealand in a 2007 international series, says the players are in good shape ahead of the big game.
He added: “We will take a lot of confidence into the game from what we did last week against Hull KR at home.
“It was a very good performance by us as Hull KR are a solid team who had aspirations of making the top eight themselves.
“We know Castleford are tough opponents but we will just focus on ourselves and what we can do.
“The players are fit and ready and we just can’t wait to get there and get out there now.
“It’s been a long wait and I think the supporters can be our 18th man on the day. We want them behind us as we know what they can bring.”