Departing forward Olly Davies has revealed his sadness at departing Widnes on social media.
Davies, 27, was one of 10 departures confirmed by the club at the end of season dinner, with the workhorse former Sheffield man one of those let go.
Since his arrival ahead of the 2022 season, Davies has been a virtual ever-present in the Vikings line-up – making a total of 54 appearances, including 34 starts.
23 of those starts came in 2022, with him featuring largely off the bench in 2023 owing to the form of Shane Grady and Sam Wilde in the back-row.
Despite that, many fans were surprised to see the ex-St Helens academy product not be offered a new deal for 2024.
I’m Sad to be leaving Widnes after my 2 years here, really enjoyed my time with the club, plenty highs and lows, that’s sport! thanks to all the fans, players and staff whilst being here 👍🏼 https://t.co/kO4lmmj0bA
— Oliver Davies (@OliverJDavies1) October 2, 2023
Davies tweeted: “I’m sad to be leaving Widnes after my two years here, really enjoyed my time with the club, plenty highs and lows, that’s sport! Thanks to all the fans, players and staff whilst being here.”
Meanwhile, prop Lewis Hatton has joined League 1 side Keighley Cougars following his departure from the Vikings.
Hatton arrived from Swinton at the end of last season and made 16 appearances for the Vikings, all off the bench, though only featured twice following the departure of John Kear in June.
Keighley were relegated at the end of the season after just one campaign back in the Championship.
However, there is uncertainty over whether League 1 will exist in 2024 – and whether instead there might be one merged competition with the Championship.
League 1 was operating with just 10 teams following the last minute withdrawal of West Wales Raiders in the spring, while London Skolars have since pulled out after the end of the season, leaving just nine clubs in the third tier.
A proposal to merge the two divisions this time last year was thrown out, with clubs at the top end of the Championship believed to be against plans to pit them against Cornwall, Midlands et al.
An imbalanced fixture list and the removal of potentially lucrative ties against nearby clubs, particularly in Yorkshire, was thought to be a key reason.
As well as Hatton, it is expected that the likes of Danny Craven, Adam Lawton and Owen Farnworth are heading to League 1 for next season, to play for Oldham.
A merger of the divisions would provide a boost for those three in particular, and would pit them directly against the Vikings in 2024.