Widnes Vikings have announced that the club’s U19s captain Kieran Butterworth has signed a one year full-time professional contract and will become a fully fledged member of Denis Betts’ first team squad in 2014.
A former West Bank Bears and Halton Farnworth Hornets junior and ex-pupil at nearby Saints Peter and Paul Catholic College, 19 year-old Kieran has progressed through the Vikings ranks, representing every age group since first joining the club’s Scholarship programme back in 2008.
A winger by trade, Kieran has trained regularly with the Vikings first team for the past three months and caught the eye of the Vikings’ Head Coach Denis Betts who commented, “This offers us a chance to develop Kieran even further through our system. He has a great work ethic and now we just need to see if we can aid his undoubted potential by integrating him into the first team for a longer period, and giving him a full-time position.
“It’s nice to be able to offer lads who really want to be a part of this team an opportunity. That’s what it is with Kieran, we have offered him the chance to develop his skill-base and create a career for himself.
“In the short time that he’s already been in our environment, he’s been good and the first team lads really like him. He continues to prove that he’s committed, works hard in every single session and doesn’t look out of place. With a full pre-season working alongside the lads, I’m hoping that the extra workload and physical demands will really advance him.”
Vikings’ Head of Youth Performance Phil Finney was the man who rewarded Kieran with his first professional contract at the club in 2010 when he was just 16. Having watched his progression closely ever since, Phil was keen to add further praise.
“Kieran is thoroughly deserving of this contract. This recognition has been awarded as a result of his dedication, perseverance and efforts to fulfil his potential within Rugby League.
“Kieran is an individual who truly embodies the values that this club and its Youth Performance Department advocates. His fearless approach and positive attitude that he brings to all situations makes him an extremely popular person with his peers and staff alike.
“He has progressed from the same cohort that produced Jack Owens and Tom Gilmore, and I hope that if he continues to apply himself, he will be featuring alongside them both again in the not too distant future.”
Having fulfilled his boyhood ambition and signed a full-time contract with his hometown club, a delighted Kieran Butterworth said, “When I first signed scholarship forms, I remember my mum saying that the fact I had signed didn’t necessarily mean that I was going to make it as a Rugby League player, and I would still have to work hard at my game. This really spurred me on at the time and it still does to this day, so to have achieved one of my personal goals and earned a full-time contract at the club, is something that I’m really pleased about.
“I don’t mind being thrown in at the deep end and having to adapt, so when I was first invited to join the first team set up a few months ago, I was made up. The first thing that struck me was the environment and the fact that everything was so professional. The lads get on really well and they made me feel welcome and helped me settle in immediately.
“Training and preparing on a full-time basis is something that really excites me and I wouldn’t want anything less. Last year when I was only part-time, it used to annoy me that we were only in three times a week, so I used to train in the gym and go running as often as I could, just to fill my time in between sessions at the club. Given the chance, if the opportunity to be in every day was offered to me, I’d take it – I’d even sleep here as well!
“The next 12 months is going to be massive for me and I’m going to give it my best shot.”
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