WIDNES Vikings Head Coach Kieron Purtill has agreed a new one-year contract with the club for the 2020 season.

Purtill, who arrived at the club ahead of the 2019 campaign, has extended his stay with the Vikings until the end of next season.

Purtill has guided the Vikings first team squad through an incredibly tough period in the club’s history, and despite that, has continued to lead the club to some memorable victories over the likes of Toulouse Olympique and Leigh Centurions.

Despite losing a number of his more experienced players following the period of administration, the Vikings under Purtill eliminated the imposed 12-point deduction in the quickest way possible.

A five-match winning streak, whilst playing some superb rugby during that run, pulled the Vikings away from the bottom of the table, all completed with the squad’s age averaging just over 23 over the course of the season.

During the season, Kieron Purtill has also handed debuts to six players from the club’s Academy system (Sam Freeman, Jayden Hatton, Calum O’Neill, Ben Davies, Joe Edge & Jacob Dugdale), continuing the club’s proud focus of developing home-grown talent.

He has also led the club to being just one win away from a return to Wembley, in what would be a first appearance at the National Stadium for Widnes Vikings since 1993, when taking on Leigh Centurions in the 1895 Cup Semi Finals this week.

The former England Knights and Leigh Centurions Head Coach, carries a 61% win ratio with the club in all competitions since taking charge, and will be looking to build on that as the club embarks on a new era in 2020.

Purtill said: “We’ve got a big rebuild on our hands. The last 12 months has been a testing one for everyone involved with the club, but I think the silver lining that has occurred through all of this is the support that the fans and sponsors have given us over that period.

"In testing times, it can sometimes bring the best out of people, and that is certainly the case here and I’m excited to be a part of it.

“For me, that is something that is very encouraging moving forward. If you put that together with the amount of young players we’ve brought through, the future of the club looks bright.

"From next year, we can reset and start a brand new future for the club.

“I’ve built an affinity with this place.

"Since I’ve arrived, the fans have been superb with me, both on match days and on social media.

"What I personally witnessed during administration, and I’m seeing people turning up with their pocket money, it certainly touches on your heartstrings.

“We’ve got some unfinished business here and we need to put the club back where it belongs, which is to eventually get back into Super League and challenging for trophies.

“The club moving part-time is a different challenge, and whilst it closes doors for some, it opens up opportunities for different players that might not have been available to us previously.

“Everyone has seen this year that just because you’re part-time, it doesn’t make you inferior to your opponents or be ‘less fit’ or unable to compete. But as we’ve found out, the Championship is a competitive league, with excellent players, and I think people should be excited about the next step of Widnes Vikings.

“It’s massively important for us now that despite the rebuild getting underway for next year, we need to focus on this year and get those wins to stay away from the bottom two.

"We’ve battled adversity all year, and still doing so, and we’re fully confident of finishing in style.

"We need the fans and everyone connected with the club to continue their support from here on in, as we’re still a bit away from where we want to be as a club.”

Phil Finney, Chief Executive of Widnes Vikings, said: “This year has been a very difficult one for Kieron as a Head Coach and he has coped admirably, bringing stability and composure to the playing group during a testing year.

“We, as an organisation, need to look ahead in a positive manner and plan for the future. Therefore, securing Kieron’s services for at least the next twelve months is the start of this process.

“For the club to be the strongest it can be moving forward into next year, we believe having continuity, consistency and stability for the club moving forward is something of real importance.

“Therefore, Kieran’s commitment to club for next season allows that to happen, and the rebuild of Widnes Vikings to begin for 2020.”