WIDNES Vikings have signed Liam Cooper on a one-year deal in the week that Anthony Gelling and Keanan Brand have departed for Warrington.

Cooper, a St Helens Academy graduate, is a hard-working and tough back rower and has put pen-to-paper on a deal at the Halton Stadium until the end of the 2020 season.

He was the captain of the unbeaten Saints’ Academy team in 2016, and has Betfred Championship experience with both Sheffield Eagles in 2017, and most recently Halifax RLFC in 2019.

The forward will join fellow ex-Halifax player Shane Grady in the Vikings pack next season, and will look to push the club further up the Betfred Championship table in 2020.

Cooper said: “It feels great to be able to join a new club after so many years at Saints. I’m really looking forward to starting fresh again at a good club like Widnes.

“Being a St Helens lad, Widnes is close to home for myself, as well as a few of my family being Widnes fans, so they were reasons for me joining the club.

The Widnes fans can expect to see some big impact carries and big hits from me next year.

“But the history of the place, and the chance to get them back up to where we belong was the convincing factor for me.

“The Championship is a pretty physical league, a division where you can’t take a backwards step.

"I enjoy the physical parts of the game, and I have developed that side of the game playing in the Championship over the past few seasons.

“I’ve watched many games at Widnes over some time, and played at the Halton Stadium in the last couple of years, and the support from the fans is brilliant.

“They are a loyal bunch, and support the team through both the good and the bad. Hopefully, we can give them some more good times for them to enjoy during my time at the club.

“The Widnes fans can expect to see some big impact carries and big hits from me next year, and on the back of that we can hopefully enjoy some big wins in the key games.”

Gelling and Keanan Brand have both left the club to join Warrington Wolves ahead of the 2020 season.

Brand joined the club aged 14, and would progress through the club’s Academy system to become a mainstay in the first team squad in 2019.

He scored nine tries in 34 appearances for Widnes Vikings.

Gelling made 18 appearances and scoring 11 tries for the Vikings.