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Vikings delight as Alex Gerrard extends his contract
9:45pm Sunday 24th February 2013 in Vikings news
WIDNES prop Alex Gerrard has signed a new two-year deal, which will keep him at the club until the end of the 2015 season.
A front rower by trade, Gerrard's quiet nature off the pitch belies an uncompromising attitude on it supported by a great appetite for work. Just six months ago, Alex was at something of a career crossroads and had a tough choice to make. Fortunately, this story has a happy ending much to the delight of Vikings Head Coach Denis Betts, who said; "Alex made a decision to step out of University and delay his studies for a year, to see if he could earn himself a full time contract at the club.
"As a result of doing this, the commitment and level of improvement he has shown have both been fantastic and week in week out, his performances are dictating that he is deserving of a place in the starting 17.
"It seems only fair that we utilise all of the energy and enthusiasm he has got and put it into the team and keep him here for as long as possible. So, rewarding him with a new and improved contract was an easy decision to reach and I have no doubt that we will be extending his contract again, further down the line.
"Alex is well aware of the continued hard work involved in being a professional sportsman and being in a full time environment has really spurred him on. He has a great attitude, works really hard and still has plenty of talent and skills that are yet to show themselves."
Sponsored by Izzy's Busy for the 2013 Super League season, Alex joined the Vikings in 2008 after a junior career that saw him pull on the colours of both Golborne Parkside and Hindley ARLFC, from where he was spotted by the Vikings as a 16 year-old. Gerrard admits he has fond memories of the day he was first approached by the club, commenting; "To be honest, it was all a bit of a shock, especially when I was told by the Talent Scout that he'd actually come to look at another player that day, so I was made up when they chose to speak with me instead.”
Two years later, Alex was making a name for himself in the Vikings U18s team and his hard work was rewarded when he got the opportunity to represent the first team in the frenetic atmosphere of a Challenge Cup-tie against Wigan Warriors.
"I got a text message off my Coach at the time Phil Finney, telling me that I wasn't needed at training that night because I would be training with the first team instead.
"As the day of the game got closer, to find out that I was going to be on the bench as Jim Gannon hadn't managed to shake off his injury problem was great news and despite the fact we lost the game heavily, it is a day I will always remember."
Having now secured his future at the club until the end of 2015, the 21 year-old who scored his first senior try in last weekend's loss at Hull KR, paid tribute to his Head Coach Denis Betts; "In the year that Denis arrived, I was missing for a long time through glandular fever and when I was fit enough to compete again, I played for the Reserves.
"I was fortunate enough to get the ‘Player of the Year' award that year and Denis always kept a close eye on me and shown an interest in my progress and before too long, he welcomed me back into the first team set-up.
"Things are going really well for me at the moment. I featured in the last 5 games of 2012, I was picked for all 3 pre-season games and I've been selected for our opening 3 Super League games this year.
"Signing a long term contract at the club means that I can now fully focus on playing and not have to worry about any other distractions. I'm taking things one game at a time and working hard on my consistency. The secret now is to keep up my level of performance to ensure I maintain my place in the side."