As announced exclusively to Viking Stronghold Members earlier today, Widnes Vikings have signed Papua New Guinea international, Wellington Albert.
Albert, who was one of the stars of the 2017 Rugby League World quarter-finalists, joins the Vikings from PNG Hunters. At six foot four and eighteen stone, the 23 year old is known for his pace, power and physicality.
In 2014, he rose to prominence when he became the first Papua New Guinean to score an NRL contract directly from PNG, when he joined the Penrith Panthers, amid interest from Wests Tigers and South Sydney Rabbitohs. Albert represented the Panthers at National Youth Cup level and in the Intrust Super Premiership, before joining PNG Hunters this year.
Wellington has impressed both domestically and internationally this season. Playing 20 league games, he was a constant presence in the side that secured the Hunters their first ever Intrust Super Cup premiership. With 37 tackle breaks and an impressive 679 post-contact metres in 2017, as well as 13 offloads, Wellington proved to be a handful for opposition defences with his strong leg drives and raw physical power.
He again demonstrated his explosiveness and strength at the Rugby League World Cup, where he featured in the victories over Ireland and Wales, scoring in the 50-6 demolition of The Dragons.
Albert plays primarily at prop, but has also been deployed effectively at wing, utilising his pace and strength. His move is subject, as standard, to visa approval and the Vikings are looking to welcome him to pre-season training at the earliest opportunity.
Denis Betts, Head Coach of Widnes Vikings, says: “Through seeing him firsthand at the Rugby League World Cup, and having the opportunity to speak to people I respect who have coached and played alongside him, I identified that Wellington would have the right qualities to enhance our team. I am delighted that we have been able to secure his move.
Wellington is big, dynamic and carries the ball well. It is exciting to introduce a forward to our squad who has shown he is physically able to also play on the wing. With his size and determination, he will be a strong addition to the Vikings.”
Wellington will be lining up alongside fellow countryman and RLWC 2017 star, Kato Ottio.
Denis Betts says, “I am looking forward to seeing Kato and Wellington train and play together. Both players impressed at the World Cup and will offer something unique to the team. It is positive that they will be making the move to the UK together, which I hope will help them to adjust more easily to the Super League competition.”
The England Assistant Head Coach also shared his satisfaction at building a more dominant pack this season.
He said, “In signing Kato and Wellington, as well as Krisnan Inu, we have introduced three big and powerful players in key positions. I am sure that our Members and supporters will enjoy seeing them in action next season. I am grateful to the 2018 Viking Stronghold Members and the Club’s commercial partners for the role they have played in helping to strengthen the team this season.”
Widnes Vikings would like to thank Jeannie’s Away Travel, 2018 Player Sponsor of Wellington Albert.