The Vikings are pleased to announce our third new signing ahead of the 2024 Championship season, as 27-year-old forward Martyn Reilly arrives from the Batley Bulldogs on a two-year deal.
Having established a regular starting spot in the Batley side in 2023, Martyn is keen to do the same as a key member of the new-look Widnes pack next year, and reflected on his time playing career-best rugby at the Bulldogs.
“I’ve loved the last two years at Batley and have achieved a lot, getting to both the Championship and 1895 Cup Grand Finals. It was a really tough decision to leave the club after that, but I wanted to take on the new challenge that awaits at Widnes.
“I was an ever-present for Batley, only missing three games in the past two years, and playing week-in-week out is something I absolutely want to be doing next season with the Vikings.”
Martyn has been a regular starter at Championship level for several clubs, beginning his career with Halifax before moving onto Dewsbury, Coventry, Oldham, Sheffield and Batley. He’s keen to nail down a spot in the first XIII with the Chemics sooner rather than later.
“I’ve spoken at length with Allan about next year and feel like I already know my new role well. I’ve learnt a lot in the last few season and can hopefully showcase that experience by playing every single week.”
Batley, like Widnes, just missed out on last season’s top six, finishing four points above the Vikings and being pipped on points difference by York in the last play-off spot. Martyn’s ready to right those wrongs in Widnes colours next year.
“We were really disappointed to miss the play-offs, especially after reaching the Grand Final the year before and the 1895 Cup Final at Wembley in August, but bringing that big game experience will stand us in good stead next season. Widnes is a massive club and we need to be cemented in that top 6, and hopefully I can do my bit to help us get there.”
In a career that’s taken him up and down the country, Martyn’s already familiar with several players in the Widnes team, none more so than fellow new signing Liam Kirk. “Kirky and I have played together several times before and he’s a great team-mate, both on and off the field.
“I also know Tom Gilmore well from our time together at Batley, so building on those relationships should help us to strengthen our on-field combinations and the cohesiveness of the team in the sheds.”
Looking ahead to 2024, Reilly is ready for the challenge that awaits the Vikings “I want to be on the pitch regularly, bringing leadership and making a positive impact wherever I’m playing.
“This was too good an opportunity to turn down and I’m really looking forward to it. I can’t wait to meet the Widnes fans too, I’ve seen first-hand how passionate they are about the club.”
The prospect of having Martyn in the side is one that head coach Allan Coleman can’t wait to see either, saying ”In my opinion Martin has been one of the best middle forwards in the championship for the last few years, and played a big part in how successful Batley have been.
“We know that he’ll lead from the front and won’t take a backwards step. His natural game is to always go forward and be a real leader on the field, and I think that’s exactly what we need in the middle of the park.
“It’s been a long process to get Martyn, but he’s one I am really pleased to get over the line, and can’t wait to get started with him in the Vikings team.”
With Martyn the latest addition to the squad, and pre-season set to start in a few short weeks, a fresh-faced Chemics pack is starting to take shape ahead of the new campaign.