Finnigan aware clubs target scalp of ‘big club’ Widnes

Widnes coach Simon Finnigan wants to learn from experience and ensure his side can adapt to other sides raising their game against them in the Championship this season.

Finnigan, 39, featured for the club in the last season in the Championship before Super League, back in 2011, which resulted in a fifth place finish and a disappointing play-off exit to Sheffield.

The club has never been minor premiers in the second tier, though did reach consecutive Grand Finals under Steve McCormack in 2006 and 2007, as well as winning promotion to Super League under Neil Kelly in 2001.

Speaking in his first full press conference as coach, the newly appointed Vikings coach says he thinks the club need to adapt to being seen as a scalp at this level.

He said: “It is a big club. We always talk about how when this club is in Championship, they’ve not necessarily won in the easier games at this level. That’s a lot to do with the club that is Widnes, because I think in terms of the stature of the club it is still a big club. The fixture of Widnes is still a big fixture for other teams to come up against.

“You’ve only got to look at the reaction after the West Wales cup draw and it’s the famous Widnes Vikings and we’re still a big draw, which means teams raise their game against us.

“That’s something we’ve got to adapt to and learn to. In my view, it’s still a big club within rugby league circles.

“I go back to when I played for this club in the Championship, I don’t think we adapted to that. I don’t think we realised possibly that it was a factor. Bradford have had the same issues because no matter where they are in the league or their financial troubles, they’re still perceived as a big club.

“It’s something we need to be better at and probably need to be more aware of the fact that it is a highlight for teams to want to beat us.”

The first part of Finnigan’s press conference, alongside Jack Owens, is available in episode 44 of the Widnes Rugby Chat podcast.

The second part will be available in the next episode, out on Tuesday 16 March.

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