Widnes captain Jon Clarke will be happy to upset his neighbours, as well as several close friends, when he goes up against his old club Warrington for the first time in the Magic Weekend today.
The 33-year-old hooker, signed from the Wolves ahead of the Vikings’ return to the top flight this year, is looking forward to lining up against his old team-mates, especially after missing the 46-12 Super League derby defeat at Easter through injury.
“I spent 10 years with Warrington so my first match against my old mates will be unusual,” he said. “I still live in Warrington and my neighbours are Ben Westwood and Garreth Carvell so it will be weird to play against them.
“But, as soon as that whistle is blown, they are not my mates for 80 minutes.”
Prop forward Carvell, who played alongside Clarke in the Warrington front row when they won the Challenge Cup at Wembley in 2010, says he has already started to make life difficult for his neighbour.
“Jon lives just a few doors down the road from me and he’s going to hope he isn’t a light sleeper,” Carvell said.
“We’ve already begun winding each other up and, though it’s good-natured for now, we both know it’s going to be serious come Saturday afternoon.”
It will be Widnes’s first involvement in the Magic Weekend, which was introduced in 2007 and staged in Cardiff and Edinburgh before moving to the Etihad Stadium this year.
Warrington stand-off Lee Briers promises there will be no complacency from his side.
“They’re down the ladder in the league but it’s still going to be a real tough game for us,” said Briers.
“They beat Wigan this year so we won’t be complacent, that’s for sure.”