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Vikings face a mighty challenge against Wolves
7:00am Tuesday 4th September 2012 in Vikings news
Vikings prop Steve Pickersgill admits that he and his Widnes teammates are well aware of the almighty challenge ahead of them as they prepare to take on his former club Warrington Wolves this Sunday, September 9, kick-off 3pm.
The Wolves arrive in town having recently won the Carnegie Challenge Cup against Leeds Rhinos at Wembley – and one player caught the eye of Pickersgill in that clash.
He said: “Ben Westwood was outstanding. He was so determined and committed and never stopped running. He would have been my choice for the Lance Todd Trophy.”
Having lost in both of their two previous clashes with the Wolves this year, Pickersgill concedes that there are many lessons that can be learnt, both collectively and individually, from those defeats.
“We need to stop them having lots of possession in key areas and work together as a group to shut them down.
If I’m being honest, a big lesson for me from the Magic Weekend is to not think about the fact I’m playing against my old club too much and focus on just playing to my full capacity.”
Pickersgill recently made his 100th career appearance against Bradford Bulls. He was delighted at reaching the century milestone, despite the disappointing scoreline on the day.
“I didn’t know about this until about two-weeks before my 100th appearance came about and Mark Naughton, who is in charge of media at the Vikings, informed me.
“I never thought when I was in and out of the side at Warrington that I’d reach this number of games. As the cliché suggests, I’ve just kept my head down, continued to work hard and fortunately it’s paid off.”
Pickersgill’s consistent performances this season have earned him plaudits a-plenty; none more so than from his head coach Denis Betts, who offered the front-rower a one-year extension to his current Vikings deal back in July.
It was a document the 26 year-old was only too happy to sign.
“I was glad that the uncertainty surrounding my Vikings future was sorted out, and I feel so much more focused as a result. I’m pleased that I’m being picked on a more regular basis than I was at the beginning of the year, and hopefully if I keep working hard then Denis will find it difficult to drop me.”
Pickersgill was also quick to identify his relationship with Vikings director of rugby Paul Cullen as a key factor in his switch to Widnes, back in May 2009.
“Paul was one of the people who pushed my move to Widnes along. At the time, I wasn’t playing regular first team rugby under Tony Smith at Warrington, but Paul, who was the Widnes coach back then, took me initially on loan and I was really grateful just to get some ‘game time’.
“From day one, I felt right at home and enjoyed my rugby, and our victory over Barrow Raiders in the Northern Rail Cup Final in Blackpool is definitely one of the highlights of my career so far.
“At the end of the 2009 season I was offered a long-term deal and I’ve never looked back."
With life in Super League still a dream for the Vikings in those days, that particular win proved itself to be quite a momentous occasion for the club and a pivotal cog in their aspiration to re-join the game’s elite a few years later, as Steve reflects.
“The atmosphere from the crowd was superb, as it is every single week. Blackpool always has something special about it and the team and our supporters really enjoyed the outing.
“The lads were all delighted at the final whistle, and realising we had ticked the box towards our license application made it extra special.”
Earlier this year, news of the Vikings’ ambitious swoop for Huddersfield Giants stand-off Kevin Brown, who signed a four-year contract at Widnes from 2013, sent shockwaves through the sport.
Recruiting a player of this calibre has delighted Steve.
“I think it’s great news, and it highlights the ambition of this club even further. Kevin has so many admirers in the game and I’m most definitely one of them. His signing has made a lot more people sit up and take notice of the work that is going on here, and hopefully with him on board we can push on even further next season.”