OLDHAM Rugby League Club is “excited” (Matt Diskin’s word) by the signing for next season of Leigh Centurions and former Widnes Vikings winger Ryan Ince, who played two Betfred Championship games on loan for Roughyeds before the lockdown early this year.
The 24-year-old, for whom try scoring comes naturally, has signed a one-year deal to become the 26th player, and the 12th new boy, in head coach Diskin’s reshaped squad.
Across 2017 and 2018, Ince ran in 11 Super League tries in 18 appearances for Widnes and followed up in 2019 with 19 tries in 22 games in all competitions for the Vikings, including 17 touchdowns in 18 Betfred Championship games.
A delighted Diskin said:
“Ryan has real quality and I’m genuinely excited by his capture. We were very impressed with his performances when he played on loan for us against Bradford Bulls and Dewsbury Rams in March. He has plenty of pedigree and plenty of experience and he’s a good person too, as we learned when he was with us last Spring.
“On top of all that, he can play centre as well, so he gives us options. Whichever way you look at this, Ryan is a big signing for us.”
A Widnes lad, Ince played for the local Moorfield community club as a boy before joining the Vikings’ youth set-up and working his way up, via the Academy, to the first-team squad.
While developing at Widnes, he had spells on dual-reg with Whitehaven, Hunslet and North Wales Crusaders, producing overall career stats of 38 tries in 72 games, including 31 in 46 for Widnes.
Last year, he helped the Vikings to get to Wembley for the inaugural final of the 1895 Cup, playing in a 22-16 home win against Featherstone; missing out on a 54-6 home win against Dewsbury; playing in a brilliant 12-8 semi-final victory at Leigh, where he figured outside Anthony Gelling; but missing out when the Vikings lost to Sheffield Eagles in the final at Wembley.
Within a few weeks of playing in the side that dumped Leigh out of the 1895 Cup, Ince was courted by the Centurions, who finally got their man just more than a year ago, Leigh boss John Duffy describing his capture as a “massive coup” and lauding Ince as a winger of Super League quality.
He played in Leigh’s two 2020 pre-season warm-up games against Salford Red Devils and Wigan Warriors, but he wasn’t in the Centurions’ early-season Championship games and he was soon on his way to Oldham on a month’s loan, playing on the right wing against Bradford and Dewsbury, against whom he scored the first of what Diskin hopes will be a lot of Roughyeds tries.
“I really enjoyed my short spell with Oldham at the start of the year and that had a big bearing on my decision to sign. Everyone at the club, including the other lads and the fans, made me feel very welcome and very much at home.
“When I was offered a contract for 2021 I had a good talk with Matt about how he saw the task ahead and his plans and ambitions for the club.
“Finally, I’m an engineer with a Bolton firm in my day job and that fits in well too because I live in Widnes but by the time I get to work I’ll be well on the way to Oldham. I’ll travel to training straight from work and it won’t seem far at all.
“I’m really looking forward to getting started. It’s been a long lay-off.”