WIDNES Vikings will play their first game for more than 12 months when they travel down to Stebonheath Park, Llanelli on Sunday (12.45pm) to take on a West Wales Raiders side featuring high-profile recruits Rangi Chase and Gavin Henson in round one of the Challenge Cup.

It is a game Vikings, and new coach Simon Finnigan, are relishing after spending such a long time out of action.

Preparing for this and getting used to the knocks again is a new process for the players, but one Finnigan accepts is going to be tough.

But they will be in at the deep end again from Sunday, with the cup kicking off their season with the highly competitive Championship following.

Finnigan said: “It is going to be tough. We have nothing to look back on with being out of the game for so long.

“Super League and NRL were not shut down for as long but they had a mini pre-season and then got straight back into it.

“In terms of Championship and League 1 it has never been done before.

“We have come up with way of training in the best way that will prepare us in a way that won’t harm us injury wise at the start of the season and being mindful that we need to get to the end of the year as well.

“Only time will tell if that will work.”

Finnigan has taken advice from people involved in both Super League and the NRL in coming up with a plan, which they have been carrying out in training.

He said: “Rugby league is such a unique game to prepare for - the fitness levels and the contact, then you chuck them in with the skill level and you have got to be ready to play 80 minutes of a collision sport at the highest level and be fit.

“I am confident in the lads’ application that we won’t be far away and that there will be little things that we will pick up on the way.

“We will find our feet and won’t be far away when that first game comes.”