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Issue:- 24 April 2014

New and extended signings for the Widnes Vikings

WIDNES Vikings has announced that prop-forward Paul Johnson has signed a new contract with the Club for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

Johnson, 26, joined the Vikings prior to the start of the First Utility Super League season on a one year deal and he's impressed enough for Vikings Head Coach Denis Betts to hand him a new 2 year deal.

Denis Betts said:- "Paul is a person of real quality and he's a great bloke to have around the Club. His deal is a reward for how hard he's worked since he's been here. He got released early from his contract at Hull but he's backed himself here and every time he's played for us he's put in quality performances. We knew that as soon he got settled at the Club and in an environment that he's happy with we'd get the best out of him and that's proven to be the case. He's going to get better and better, he has a lot of potential in him and we are looking forward to working with him in achieving that over the next couple of years."

Johnson, a former prop with St Helens, Wakefield and Hull, admitted that the offer of a new contract came sooner than he thought, but was pleased to sign after an 'enjoyable' start to his Vikings career.

He said:- "It has come a little sooner than I thought, but when Denis Betts came up to me and offered me the chance to re-sign, I was delighted to put my name to the contract. I originally signed here on a one year deal and it was my goal to work hard and get a new contract so to do that now is great for me. As soon as I came here I knew Widnes Vikings is a Club I'd like to be at for a long time. The people here, the set up and the facilities are first class, so to be at the Select Security Stadium for another two seasons is brilliant. I've been working hard and I'm just really enjoying my Rugby League here. It also helps being back at home near my family and girlfriend, so things are going well for me both on and off the pitch. I'm just glad that now the deal has been sorted I can concentrate on my Rugby and contribute to us having a successful season at the Vikings."

Things have come full circle for Johnson this year and to sign in the week the Vikings toppled St Helens was pretty special for him.

He added:- "I'll continue to work hard and wins like the one we got this week against Saints are massive. I played at St Helens earlier in my career and to get a result like that against your old Club is pretty pleasing. We were keen to put our recent losses to Catalan and Warrington behind us and we managed to do that yesterday with a really good win."

Signing up is strike centre Stefan Marsh on a new 2 year deal. Marsh, 23, joined the Vikings initially on loan in 2010 and returned to the Club on the same terms in the Vikings' 1st season back in the top flight.

At the end of 2012 campaign Denis Betts signed the Wigan born player on a permanent 2 year contract and now Marsh will be at the Vikings for 2015 and 2016 Super League seasons.

Marsh has played 40 times for the Vikings, scoring 23 tries and is a key figure in Betts' back line.

Widnes Vikings Head Coach Denis Betts said:- "This new deal is a reward for all the hard work Stef has put in since he's been here. He's a great person to have in the group, works hard, has loads of ability and we think he's got it in him to get better and better for this Club. He's a real strike player for us and he has that X-Factor about him that makes Stef pretty dangerous to play against. We're really pleased to have tied him up for another 2 years."

Marsh said:- "I'm really enjoying my time here at Widnes and when the offer came in to put pen to paper for another 2 years, I jumped at it. It's a really exciting time to be involved at the Vikings as the Club is really moving forward. Widnes Vikings is a Club that has a rich history and I'm looking forward to playing my part in shaping the future. We are building something special here."

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