Vikings sign Gareth Hock on season-long loan
Tuesday 22nd January 2013
Vikings sign Gareth Hock on season-long loan
Widnes Vikings today announce the season-long loan signing of Gareth Hock from Wigan Warriors.
The Vikings were initially approached by representatives of the blockbusting forward to explore whether there was an interest to take him on loan until the end of 2013. As a result of this approach, negotiations proceeded swiftly and the Vikings are delighted to confirm that he has signed a deal at the club until the end of the forthcoming Super League season.
Having worked his way through the scholarship programme at Wigan, Hock made his First Team debut for his hometown club in March 2003 in the Challenge Cup competition. Despite starting the game from the interchange bench, the teenager crossed for two tries in the away tie at Doncaster and interestingly, Vikings' Assistant Coach Mick Cassidy also featured in the same Warriors' line-up that day.
Later the same year, Gareth was awarded the ‘Young Super League Player of the Year' accolade.
To date, Hock has made over 160 more Super League appearances in the Cherry and White jersey and the 29 year-old joins the Vikings on the back of a successful 2012 campaign.
Having been a part of the Wigan side that ended the regular Stobart Super League season as League leaders, individually, Gareth's consistent performances were recognised and he was named in the Official Dream Team. Soon after, he also pulled on the England jersey in the autumn internationals.
The year did end on a sour note however, with Hock needing surgery following his exploits for his country. The expected recovery time is likely to rule him out of selection for the opening rounds of Super League XVIII.
Noted for his aggression, strong running and tough tackling, Hock's outstanding attributes have made him one of the toughest and most feared forwards in Super League. His pedigree has not been lost overseas either and in the close season, he was courted by a number of leading NRL clubs in Australia, who were keen to secure his services.
Delighted to be reunited with a player he first came across as a teenager, Vikings Head Coach Denis Betts, commented; "It's been a hard task putting everything in place but well worth it, to secure somebody of his standing. Gareth is a current international player and regarded as one of the best back rowers in the world.
"He's healthy and hardly missed a game for Wigan last year. He has loads of presence about him, knows how to play a very tough game and at the top end of his twenties; he's at a good, solid age and knows exactly where his career is going.
"When we looked around our squad, we realised we needed to move to the next level. We've already seen evidence of this following the recruitment of Kevin Brown, so to be able to bring Gareth in as well, offers even more cutting edge to our side.
"We've not made wholesale changes but those that we have will change our mindset and drive us forward.
"I appreciate that it is only a season-long loan but people like Gareth don't come around too often. Having that ‘something extra' about him, I'm confident that what he does over the course of the year will add so much quality to us.
"What we want now is for our members and supporters to get behind us and appreciate that we are trying to bring in high-end international players for them to come and watch. Throughout the whole organisation, our process is all about development and we are continuously looking at moving forward.
"Gareth has a lot of admirers within the game of rugby league and adding someone of his standing to our set-up can only make us that little bit better."
Equally as pleased to be back under the tutelage of Betts, Gareth Hock added; "As a junior working my way through the ranks at Wigan, Denis was a first team regular at the time and somebody I genuinely looked up to. To later have him as my Coach was fantastic and I really benefitted from his knowledge of the game.
"When the chance of re-joining him at Widnes came around, I didn't need asking twice. They are a proud club with a great history and I'm looking forward to playing my part in what we hope will be a big season for the club.
"Being a World Cup year, individually, I'm desperate to have a big season and by doing so, hopefully put myself in with a chance of pulling on an England shirt and representing my country again, so I'll definitely be giving it my all for the team.
"It was really flattering to find out that there were plenty of other club's who would've also liked to have offered me an opportunity, but I've spoken to lots of people in the game and they have only had good things to say about Widnes. My Brother-in-law, Kevin Brown, has also told me all about the set-up, the professionalism and the ambition at the club which made my decision even simpler and I can't wait to pull on a Vikings shirt and get started."
In conjunction with the Gareth Hock signing, the Vikings also unveiled their new away colours for the 2013 season. This shirt has been designed utilising the colours of club partner Maltacourt, who played a key role in the acquisition of Gareth Hock.
Speaking on behalf of the club, Vikings' CEO James Rule, said; "Maltacourt continue to be a wonderful partner to the Vikings and I would like to pass on our thanks to Matt Beech and his business.
"Their investment has already offered us the opportunity to commit to a huge expansion of our community programme and I was delighted when their discussions with Denis Betts concerning the prospect of signing Gareth Hock, led to a further significant investment which was essential in order to complete the deal.
"To compliment this massive coup for the club, today also offers us the perfect opportunity to launch our innovative away shirt which is designed around Maltacourt's colours. Maltacourt will be the primary sponsor on our 2013 away shirt and I am pleased that the first glimpse the public have had of this new design, is seeing it being worn by a world class signing of the calibre of Gareth Hock."
Maltacourt CEO Matt Beech, added; "I'm delighted with the progress the Vikings are making, our partnership in particular continues to evolve and show real value within the community, whether that be our involvement and support of the schools based projects, innovation around player performance management or simply helping to get points scored on the field.
"It's important for the whole area that our team does well and we were more than happy to play our part in helping to bring Gareth, a really exciting signing to the club"
UK-based company Maltacourt is a specialist logistics partner to the consumer electronics and audio visual product sector. They work with some of the world's leading brand names in the consumer electronics and audio visual product sector. They work with some of the world's leading brand names, and also provide a complete range of supply chain management and logistics services for the leading smartphone and wireless innovation brands.
In a unique variation on the theme, for 2013 the Vikings decided to break from the norm and have a different primary sponsor for their alternative kit. Further to this, the club also shared the responsibility of designing the new away shirt with Maltacourt.
The fact that each of the Vikings' representative teams will be wearing the official Maltacourt colours when on their travels in 2013 emphasises even more the strength of the working relationship between the organisations and the hands-on approach that both parties employ.
The loan agreement was concluded late last night (Monday), as a result we were unable to access the exclusive text messaging facility for our Viking Stronghold members.
Image kindly supplied by Kim Pullman