Last season placing: 8th

Widnes Vikings made history in 2014 as they made the play-offs for the first time in the Super League era and reached their first Challenge Cup semi-final in 18 years. If they are to emulate that in 2015 though they will have to do so with a very similar squad which has been strengthened only by the signings of Aaron Heremaia and Manase Manuokafoa. The forward pack of the Vikings is a place many fans feel they lack size and they would have been hoping for more signings to have come in. Denis Betts has built a strong squad over the years which he believes are good enough to compete for a place in the top eight and only time will tell if he is right to trust his squad to avoid a bottom four finish.

Key Players:

Manuokafoa adds well needed size to the forwards at Widnes as they look to compete with bigger forward packs however there is one man who is key to the success of the Vikings. That man of course is 2014 Dream Team halfback Kevin Brown who will lead out the side as captain in the New Era. It is a well earned honour as his displays in a black and white shirt last year were brilliant and if he can continue that form into the new season he could help drag Widnes into the top eight once again.

Drawbacks:

Betts retained the services of most of the 2014 squad although one man decided to hang up his boots after an incredible career. The loss of the experienced hooker Jon Clarke will be a big blow on the field but he will remain at the club as strength and conditioning coach. They will miss his influence on the pitch at number nine as Lloyd White tries to fill his boots in the new season.

Story of 2015:

It will be a tough year for the Vikings with the teams who finished below them last season recruiting heavily and improving their squads. They will have to call on the togetherness, determination and work ethic of 2014 which saw them make the play-offs if they are to avoid playing in the Super 8’s. The fans better ready themselves for a long year which will go down to the wire as every minute matters in 2015.

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My name is Sean Hayes. I am from Widnes, England. I am currently studying journalism at Salford University. Aspiring sports journalist and rugby league fanatic whether it is watching, playing or writing about the greatest game! Follow me on twitter @SHayesNBL