GOSSIP: Vikings on the verge of signing Houston

Widnes Vikings are chasing Newcastle Knights forward Chris Houston, and League Express understands they could make an announcement that they have succeeded in their pursuit as early as this week.

And it is likely that Houston, 30, will be given the number 11 shirt that was vacated when Danny Galea announced his retirement recently.

Houston has made 176 NRL appearances in nine seasons with the Knights and St George Illawarra, scoring 27 tries. He was one of the Knights’ most consistent players in 2015, making only three errors in 22 games and finishing the season with a 95 per-cent tackle accuracy, while making 1,734 metres from 196 carries.

He is also a qualified primary school teacher and is a keen surfer.

But at the end of the 2015 season he was told he does not feature in the plans of incoming Knights coach Nathan Brown, despite being under contract for the 2016 season, and he was advised to explore other alternatives in order that the Knights could free up salary cap space to be able to sign some new players.

“Chris has had a conversation with Nathan, and it was all very honest and transparent and respectful,” Knights chief executive Matt Gidley said at the time.

“Chris is weighing up a number of options as we speak.” League Express understands that Houston visited Widnes last week at his own expense to meet the staff and prospective team-mates at the club, and he was impressed with what he found, with the feeling being mutual, and that a deal has been tabled that is now with his lawyers in Sydney.”