Thackeray eyeing Super League return
Widnes stand-off Anthony Thackeray insists the Vikings are geared up for a return to Engage Super League.
The Vikings are widely expected to get the nod ahead of Halifax and Barrow on March 31 when the Rugby Football League announce which of the three Co-operative Championship clubs will be granted a three-year Super League licence from 2012.
That prospect will provide added incentive for the Widnes players as they prepare for the start of the Co-operative Championship season in nine days' time, according to Thackeray, who has already signed a Super League contract with his club.
Speaking at today's launch at Leigh Sports Village, he said: "We want to win every game we play this year.
"A lot of lads have got everything to play for. We all want to play in Super League and we've a chance now if the decision goes our way.
"But it's not something we can have an effect on. It's in other people's hands."
Thackeray, a former Hull FC and Castleford Tigers half-back who works for the Vikings' community section, says the club are already prepared to reclaim their place among the elite which they were forced to relinquish in 2005.
"We're really turning things around," he said. "There is a good feel around the place.
"Everyone from the admin staff through to the coaching staff is really switched on, the community work is really good and the academy is going well. There are solid structures in place now."
Featherstone Rovers captain Stuart Dickens, whose side declined to apply for a Super League licence despite reaching the Grand Final, insists the Championship is a competition worth winning in its own right.
"Obviously the club have got their reasons for not applying for Super League but they're hoping in three years time we will be in a stronger position to apply," he said.
"We've got two competitions to play for in the Northern Rail Cup and the Co-operative Championship, so we've plenty of things to play for without the Super League carrot."
Dickens, who had a brief spell in Super League with Salford City Reds, believes this year's Championship will be the most competitive yet.
"It's going to be very tough this year," he said. "We only lost two league games last year and I think for any team to go anywhere near that this year is going to take a massive effort.
"We're certainly not expecting that to be the case again this year. We know it's going to be a lot tougher.
"We lost to Widnes at the weekend so we know how tough they're going to be. But you've also got Leigh, Barrow, Halifax, so don't think it's going to be a one or two-horse race by any stretch of the imagination.
"The competition has got stronger and stronger every year. York got promoted and they gave us a real run for our money a couple of weeks ago.
"There are not going to be any whipping boys so you'll have to be on your game every week or you will get beat."
Meanwhile, the RFL have launched a kids-go-free initiative that will allow children under 16 to attend Co-operative Championship and Championship One games during the school holidays free of charge when accompanied by a paying adult.
The scheme will operate during the Easter and spring bank holiday weekends as well as the summer holidays, taking in rounds five, 10, 16, 17, 18 and 19 of the competition.