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Hock lined up for Vikings debut against Saints
VIKINGS will hand a debut to marquee signing Gareth Hock for Sunday’s derby clash at home to former tenants St Helens.
But the tussle has come too soon for fellow new recruit Kevin Brown, who is described as not far off after undergoing ankle surgery.
Hock’s presence will certainly add some crackle to the fixture.
The powerhouse second rower was central to Wigan’s first two victories over Saints last year and was one of three players sent off in the third at the Magic event.
So there will be a warm reception committee waiting for him from a Saints pack forced to lick their wounds after a pummelling by Huddersfield last Saturday.
It will be a clash Widnes will relish having got their season off to a flying start with a win over the Broncos.
They will, alas, be without on-song half back starlet Danny Craven after he fractured a collarbone in Sunday’s win over London.
Craven will have surgery this week and will be out for 12 weeks, which will be a loss.
But Vikings have the option to move Rhys Hanbury back into the halves from full back and accommodate Shaun Briscoe at one.
Widnes narrowly lost two games at home to Saints last term, with a rousing come back in the Challenge Cup tie rocking the visitors with 22 unanswered points.
And the July league encounter was even closer, with Widnes being denied their first win over Saints since April 1994 by a last second try.
And if Widnes needed any further motivation, the strong Wigan contingent will find their traditional foe something of a challenge to rise to.
None more so than Hock, who will be gunning to prove he has not left Wigan for a nine month Stobart Stadium sabbatical.
Vikings back row colleague Hep Cahill was looking forward to his new teammate’s input.
He said: “Hock is definitely one of those main men on the video that you have to target and make sure you look after, so having him on my side is a bonus.
“He has a great offload, but he also brings aggression which some trepidation in the opposition ranks.
“Having a player like that in the side can bring three players on to him so that is less for the rest of us to deal with.”