A SEASON on loan at Widnes Vikings will make Chris Clarkson a better player when he returns to Leeds Rhinos, he says.
The Grand Final-winning forward has signed for Widnes on a one-year loan deal, but will be back in 2016 to complete the final season of his current Rhinos contract.
Clarkson made his Rhinos debut in 2010 and played in the following season’s Grand Final success, but was restricted to just 17 appearances this term.
He said spending a year with Widnes is an opportunity to restart his Super League career.
“I am excited to go over to Widnes,” said the 24-year-old former East Leeds amateur.
“It is a new challenge for me next year and I just want to get over there and play some games.
“Playing for Widnes and staying in Super League is the best option for me, playing against full-time professionals.
“That’s what I want to be doing. I want to be kicking on, getting game time and coming back in 2016 a better player.”
The second-row is a hotly-contested position at Leeds and Clarkson played just once – in August’s defeat at London Broncos – in the final three months of this season.
“It has been tough over
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the last couple of years,” he admitted.
“It has been hard for me being a fringe player; that’s not what I wanted.
“This is an opportunity to go away, get some game time and be a regular at a Super League club.
“I need to be playing. I will be 25 next April and playing regular Super League rugby is what I want to do and I enjoy.
“It is what I signed for Leeds to do and what I hope to be doing when I come back.”
Clarkson confirmed he has spoken to coach Brian McDermott about what he needs to do during his spell at Widnes.
“Everything’s good,” he added. “Mac has given me some things to work on and hopefully Denis Betts (Vikings’ coach) will give me some new stuff as well.
“They have had a good year, getting to the semi-final of the Challenge Cup and narrowly missing out against Warrington in the play-offs.
“From the outside, things there look good. It’ll be interesting to see what they’re like from the inside.”
Widnes play on an artificial pitch and Clarkson admitted that will take “some getting used to”
He said: They train on it in pre-season so I’ll have chance to get used to it then – and I’ll get myself some knee pads.”