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Page last updated at 17:07 GMT, Friday, 19 March 2010

O'Connor buoyant over Widnes Vikings' Super League bid

Steve O'Connor
O'Connor says Widnes are focused on local players to build a team for 2012

Widnes Vikings chairman Steve O'Connor is confident that they are well placed to win a Super League licence when they are next awarded, for the 2012 season.

Widnes were tipped to win a licence in the last round of bidding in 2008, only to lose out to Salford and Crusaders.

But O'Connor insists they have spent "every waking moment since the last application preparing for next time".

"I'm sure the preparation we've done this time will make sure we'll tick the box," he told BBC Radio Merseyside.

"We've made it very easy to rubberstamp our application and I think everybody is counting down the days."

But O'Connor insists that the club can return to the top tier of English rugby league. And he believes that the three-times former league champions, graced in the past by names like Mal Aspey, Eric Hughes, Mick Burke and the Myler family, and by Martin Offiah, Joe Lydon, Andy Gregory and Jonathan Davies in their great days of the late 1980s, can go on to reprise former glories.

''Richard Lewis from the RFL invited me to Wembley for a Challenge Cup Final," said O'Connor. "And I told him I'll come back here one day and bring my team with me.

"It might take a couple of years but that would be great - to see Widnes back winning cups and fighting for that World Club Championship.

"It isn't beyond our capabilities. We're a Super League club in waiting."

O'Connor acknowledges that for a club with their means, Widnes have to concentrate on bringing through local talent as the key to their approach in the coming seasons.

"Youth development is absolutely the pivotal element," he said. "We have to grow our own talent.

''We're going to do everything we can to make sure that the best talent in the borough is working its way through."

But, for all the sensible long-term planning, O'Connor cannot hide his excitement at the prospect of hearing the news he wants this time next year.

He said: "Our application needs to be made by the autumn and the first decision making is likely to be in the spring next year.

"So we may only be 12 months away from an announcement. Come back and see the smile on my face then.''



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