Widnes Vikings have completed a deal for Wigan Warriors forward Connor Farrell on a season-long loan deal, after signing a new deal at the Warriors.
Farrell, the younger brother of Wigan and England international Liam, made eight appearances for the Warriors last year and has penned a new deal at the club, which will see him stay at Wigan until the end of 2018.
In the meantime, the 22-year-old will spend the next year at Widnes, the team he made his debut for Wigan against, in the hope of regular first-team action.
Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan pulled no punches when discussing the loan deal, saying the “shambles” of the reserve/dual-reg system meant Farrell had to go out on loan.
“Connor is a good young player who needs to be playing Rugby League regularly at a competitive level and the current shambles of Reserves/Dual-Registration does not allow that opportunity. We believe this move will help Connor achieve more senior game time which will help him improve as a player and allow him the chance to show his capabilities regularly on the Super League stage.
“Connor has a major future at the Wigan Club and we have extended his contract until the end of 2018 to reflect the year away. Connor is determined to have a long-term successful career at Wigan and agrees that this is the right opportunity for the next stage of his career development.
Farrell said: “I am delighted to have extended my deal at Wigan and am very grateful to Kris Radlinski and Ian Lenagan for giving me this opportunity to play regularly in Super League.
“I am now at the stage of my career where I feel I need to play weekly in the Super League and hope to be able to do that this year. People I have spoken to have only had good things to say about Widnes and I’m looking forward to playing for them this year before returning to Wigan in 2017 and 2018.”
Meanwhile, Shaun Wane commented: “This is a good move for Connor and one that will serve him well in the future.
“Greg Burke recently returned to Wigan after spending a year with Hull KR and is a much better player for that and I know that Connor will take this opportunity with both hands. Widnes are getting a highly professional young player who works very hard. We are looking forward to monitoring how he reacts to the pressure of Super League this year.”
From a Widnes perspective, the addition of Farrell adds competition in the pack, an area many believed the Vikings needed to strengthen.
“We’ve been looking for replacements for Danny Galea and in Connor, we feel that we’ve found the best quality player available to do that,” said Widnes head coach Denis Betts.
“He’s still young, he’s got a great desire to be successful and he’s very solid defensively. He’s got four international back-rowers ahead of him at Wigan, so he comes here to fight for his spot and it’s good to put that pressure on him.
“He’s got some good characteristics and he’s always performed well against us. He knows a couple of our players already and he’s ready to step up and push the likes of Setaimata Sa, Chris Houston, Chris Dean and Matt Whitley in the back-row.”