Mellor looks ahead to Super League 2018

Mellor looks ahead to Super League 2018

6th October 2017

Widnes Vikings Co-Captain, Joe Mellor, says the Vikings are energised by their successful Super 8s The Qualifiers campaign and the incredible backing from supporters, as they look ahead to their seventh consecutive Super League season.

Widnes Vikings retained their Super League status with a compelling 10-12 away victory over Catalans Dragons. After the dramatic conclusion to the season, Mellor says that the players are enjoying recharging their batteries, before building for a big 2018 season.  

“It’s been a long season, so having a bit of downtime now is much needed”, says Joe.

“It’s was a tough year for everyone at the club, especially the players, but we’re now able to put that behind us and focus on the exciting times ahead. We ended the year well and we’re looking to carry that forward.”

Having finished The Qualifiers campaign in second place, Joe believes that the Vikings demonstrated their capabilities and can lay firm foundations for 2018. 

“Overall, we showed up well in The Qualifiers and proved that we are strong enough to be in the Super League. Throughout the year, we had a lot of injuries and that made life really difficult. Ultimately though, we got the results when it mattered.”

“We need to keep this year in mind, because no one wants an experience like it again. There’s some positive changes going on, and we’re looking forward to a different experience next year. We’ll have a plan and we’ll attack that plan.”

When Mellor was asked to look back at the pivotal season climax in France, it’s clear the game will live as long in the memories of the players as it will for supporters.

 “We went into the game with a lot of confidence, knowing that Catalans faced more pressure on them than we did”, Joe explains.

“The week of training leading up to the game was one of our best of the season, with everyone working for each other. We knew we could win it and that showed in the performance.”

As the Vikings stepped into an intense environment at the Stade Gilbert Brutus, they were buoyed by incredible backing from the travelling Viking Stronghold Members and supporters.

“The stadium was packed. The Catalans fans were really loud, and they’d built a lot of atmosphere with all their supporters waving yellow flags about. We had to ignore the distraction and focus on our job. It made a big difference hearing all of our supporters cheering us on; knowing they were with us gave everyone a real lift.”

Whilst most supporters surely watched the game through their fingers, gripped with action, the players had to stay absolutely focussed throughout the contest.

“There was a lot of drama in the game. When we first scored, we were like ‘right let’s get back, because the game is really on now’. It was intense from beginning to end. The standard of the performance wasn’t the priority, it was about getting the two points.”

In an inspired effort, the Vikings players dug deep to withstand the pressure from the Dragons players. That effort was typified with Stefan Marsh making a blistering run to catch Lewis Tierney metres from the touchline, delivering a try saving tackle with just five minutes remaining in the game. Mellor says that was as much a heart-in-mouth moment for players as it was for supporters.

 “When Stef made that try saving tackle that was such a relief, because we knew that could have been it. That was the saving moment of the game.”

That same drama and tension continued until the final moments of the game, with Catalans gaining the opportunity to make a final play with just five seconds left in the game. 

“Those last few seconds were hectic!”, says Joe.

“Everyone knew what they had to do – get out of the scrum as soon as possible and get the ball out of field, because we knew they were going to try and kick or push for something. It was such a good feeling when that hooter went and we knew we’d got the result.”

The talismanic half-back played a vital role throughout the Vikings’ Qualifiers campaign, recording an impressive eight tries in the must-win fixtures. He prefers though to work for the team, rather than personal plaudits.  

 “I just wanted to play well. I prefer to focus on my contribution on the team, helping to organise things and support the lads, rather than going out for myself. Obviously, I’m happy to have scored a few tries, but more so because they helped to keep us in Super League.”  

As a challenging season comes to an end, and the Vikings prepare for better things in 2018, the Co-Captain reserved special praise for the Supporters and Members who are unwavering in their backing.

“It is always good to know that the supporters are with you”, he says.

“There’s a fantastic core group who’ve stayed with us all the way, and that loyalty is genuinely appreciated.”

That backing has translated into many supporters signing up for their 2018 Viking Stronghold Membership this fortnight, committing to be part of the Club’s continuing Super League journey. That response resonates with the players.

“Hearing that we’ve had a good response so far from people signing up for Stronghold Membership is massive. We didn’t have the season that we wanted, so to know that people are continuing to back us means a lot. If everyone can stay with us and renew, and more people can come on board, that will help the Club to move on to bigger and better things.”

Whilst Joe is enjoying a well-deserved rest, ultimately, like every Viking Stronghold Member, he knows that it won’t be long until he’s itching for the season to begin. 

“We’ve got a six week break this year, and that’s a good amount of time to rest and recover. I know I’m going to be getting bored, walking around the house though. I’ll be desperate to be back soon!”

Be there to back Joe and the boys in the Vikings 2018 Super Leaague Campaign! Click here to find out about the brilliant 2018 Viking Stronghold Membership oppoortunities...

Mellor looks ahead to Super League 2018