Vikings announce First Team staff

Widnes Vikings can announce details of the club’s full First Team staff ahead of the 2021 season, as preparations continue for the upcoming campaign.

Simon Finnigan is in his first pre-season at the club since his appointment as Head Coach, and will work alongside a full support staff in place in order to help prepare the Vikings for the season ahead.

Joining him as Assistant Coach is Ryan O’Brien, a Widnes-born former Vikings Academy player who has been at the club since the age of 15. Following his time as a player with the club, Ryan spent three years volunteering with the Academy while studying Sport and Exercise Science at Liverpool John Moores University where he gained a first class honours degree.

In 2016 he was handed a full-time position with the club as Youth Performance Manager, before working his way up to Head of Youth Performance in 2019. Ryan has held Head Coaching roles at Scholarship, Academy and Reserves level, combining this with working with the First Team as a UKCC level 3 qualified coach over the past two seasons.

Now in his 12th year with the club, Ryan has been working closely with Simon already throughout pre-season as the 2021 campaign closes in.

Alongside Ryan, Neil Belshaw and Kellen Wood have joined the club as Support Staff for the First Team, assisting with a number of tasks on training and match days.

Neil has vast practical coaching experience within the Wales Youth set-up, as well as being a former coach with St Helens Academy and with the Vikings Academy system. Neil is a qualified PE teacher working at Broadgreen International School during the day and will bring with him a wealth of knowledge and understanding and will provide invaluable support to Simon and the players.

Kellen has been with the Vikings since the age of 14, progressing through the youth set-up to represent our Scholarship, Academy and Reserves teams. Currently studying Sports and Exercise Science at LJMU, his attitude throughout his time as a player and member of staff is held in high regard. Kellen will play a vital role in generating data to help enhance the coaching staff to make objective and informed performance related decisions.

Kieran Oates joined the First Team set-up in the New Year as Strength and Conditioning Coach, implementing his knowledge and understanding gained from his Masters in Strength and Conditioning in order to ensure the First Team squad are in the best possible shape throughout pre-season and the 2021 campaign.

Club Physio David Bahadoor is in his third year of working with the Vikings, with his expertise helping to inform decisions on the training level of individual players to minimise injuries, while also rehabilitating players who pick up injuries and knocks. Having worked with the club for a couple of years he has an excellent understanding of the current squad, David has previously worked as an Academy Physio with Manchester United and Liverpool Football Club and has a Masters in physiotherapy.

Also continuing his role at the Vikings is Haroon Rashid, our Club Doctor, who will be on hand to deal with any incidents that occur on match days which require medical assistance. Haroon’s expertise is also being utilised when implementing Covid-secure protocols to ensure players and staff remain safe at all times. A visiting lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, he has also worked in Boxing and with England Touch.

Widnes-born Liam Clark will take up a key role with regard to Matchday Operations during the 2021 season, having been at the club in many capacities since 2010. Originally a volunteer while studying at college and university in Sports and Exercise Science, Liam assisted with the coaching of the Scholarship and Academy set-ups before joining the Vikings Community team.

Working his way up to Head of Community, Liam moved on last year to become a Sports and Public Services Tutor at Cronton College, remaining at the club in his current matchday role.

A new addition to the First Team staff is Lauren Garner, joining the Vikings to offer psychological insights and support to both players and staff. Having previously worked within Mixed Martial Arts, Lauren is currently undertaking a Professional Doctorate at LJMU.