ENGLAND Community Lions second-rower Connor Dwyer has been signed on a one-year deal by Widnes Vikings.

The 26-year-old joins Tim Sheens' squad from Thatto Heath Crusaders, but has previously played in the professional ranks with Barrow Raiders, Rochdale Hornets and Swinton Lions, where he featured 61 times and scored 16 tries between 2015 and 2017 before stepping down to the amateur game due to work commitments.

"Widnes have had some troubled times recently but have steadied themselves and are looking to build back up and move forward, so hopefully I can be a part of that," said Dwyer.

“I did have another offer from a club in the Championship, but to have the chance to work under Tim Sheens was something I couldn’t turn down.

"I can learn so much from him, he has been there and done almost everything in the game.

“I always felt I had left the game prematurely due to a job opportunity that I couldn’t turn down, but it was always in the back of my mind to play at this level."

"It’s a chance to test myself again as the Championship is a very tough league.

“I enjoyed three years at Swinton Lions, gaining promotion into the Championship and spending two solid years at that level where I improved as a player and matured a lot, so I owe them a lot.

“The NCL league is also a great standard too, so playing there with Thatto Heath hasn’t been easy. There are a lot of players signing now from that league who are more than capable of playing at this level.

“There is a good squad being built with some good young lads with lots of potential, and also some experienced lads at Championship and Super League level. If we all buy in this year I’m sure we will have a good 2020.

“I haven’t come here to just make up the numbers that’s for sure, I’ll give 100% in every game and hopefully can pick up where I left off at Swinton by having the same standard of performances I was having.”

Sam Freeman, who made eight first-team appearances last season, has left the club following the expiration of his contract.

Vikings have announced home pre-season friendly fixtures against Castleford Tigers on January 12 and North Wales Crusaders on Sunday, 19 January 19, both 3pm kick-off.

Meanwhile, West Bank Bears will entertain the Royal Navy in the opening round of the Coral Challenge Cup.

The game will take place in Widnes over the weekend of January 11-12.