Leeds Rhinos: Vikings take co-captain's suspension on the chin

Widnes Vikings will be without suspended co-captain Chris Houston for Sunday's Super League test with visiting Leeds Rhinos.

Tuesday, 20th February 2018, 3:00 pm
Super League referee Phil Bentham. PIC: John Rushworth

Widnes have accepted the two-match ban imposed on co-captain Houston for knocking over referee Phil Bentham during his side’s 18-10 defeat by Warrington.

Bentham was injured and taken from the field in the second half of last Friday’s Betfred Super League match at the Halton Stadium after colliding with the Australian forward, who was placed on report by replacement referee Scott Mikalauskas.

Houston was subsequently issued with a two-game penalty notice by the Rugby Football League’s match-review panel and his club have decided not to contest it.

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Suspended Widnes co-captain Chris Houston, right, and re-signed Huddersfield Giants' Sebastine Ikahihifo. PIC: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

“Whilst we believe that this incident was entirely accidental and that there was no malice or intent behind the collision, we also recognise that there is a duty of care towards referees,” the Vikings said in a statement.

“As such, the club does not feel that it is in a position to contest this matter.

“We are satisfied that Chris’ positive conduct on the field, with no disciplinary action in the past 24 months, has been recognised with a penalty at the lower end of the range.

“Following the incident, Chris sought out Phil to express his sincere apologies for the accident. We are looking forward to him returning to the team soon.”

Suspended Widnes co-captain Chris Houston, right, and re-signed Huddersfield Giants' Sebastine Ikahihifo. PIC: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

Houston, who successfully fought a similar charge last April, will miss the Vikings’ next two games against Leeds and Wigan.

Huddersfield forward Sebastine Ikahihifo, meanwhile, has signed a three-year contract extension that will keep him with the Giants until the end of 2021.

The 27-year-old prop, who was Huddersfield’s player of the year and named in the Betfred Super League Dream Team in 2017, is the second player to commit his future to the Giants in a week following Oliver Roberts’ decision to sign a new long-term contract.

“Seb was a revelation last year with what he did,” said Giants coach Rick Stoney.

“He made more tackle breaks than anyone else in the competition, the second most offloads and was up there for the metres made count.”