Widnes Vikings have signed forward Chris Houston from Newcastle Knights – as first revealed in League Express this past Monday.
Houston, 30, has played 176 games in the NRL for the Knights and St George-Illawarra Dragons and moves to the UK on a two-year deal. League Express broke news of the deal first, with the Vikings now confirming the deal 24 hours later.
During the negotiations, Houston flew over to the UK last week to get a feel for the environment at the Club, meet staff and players and see the facilities first hand, including watching his new team-mates train on the iPitch. He also spent time with Denis Betts and the coaching staff, and worked with new Head of Strength & Conditioning Chris Baron to get a tailored programme for his pre-season preparations.
He said: “I’ve loved my time in the NRL but I wanted a new challenge. I’ve been speaking to James (Rule) and Denis (Betts) for the past few weeks and last week I came over to the UK to meet all the people involved with the Club.
“I wanted to come and meet Denis and the boys and get a feel for the Club before I committed my future to the Vikings. In the end it wasn’t a hard decision to sign here after learning about the Club’s culture and values and seeing the fantastic facilities at the Club.
“I’m coming here to do a job. Super League is always something I have wanted to experience.
“It’s a challenge I’m looking forward to. There have been quite a few coaches at the Knights in recent years, so it’s been a bit of a transition each year. I’m really looking forward to coming over here and refreshing my game. That’s one good thing about playing under Denis, being an ex-back rower there is plenty to learn off from him. It’ll be hard and it’ll be challenging, but I’m really looking forward to it.
“I’ve built my game around work rate and in my first six or so years of first grade as a back-rower I played 80 minutes in the majority of the games. I like running lines off the half backs and I’m looking forward to playing with the half-backs here, they both look like quality players.
“This is a secure club with great facilities and a great future and I am glad to be part of the squad for the next few years. I am looking forward to moving my family over and getting stuck into the season ahead. I’ll be doing everything I can to help us make the top eight.”