England forward Gareth Hock is looking forward to making a fresh start after moving on loan from Wigan to Widnes.
The 29-year-old back-row forward opted to link up with his old Wigan team-mate Denis Betts, the Vikings head coach, at the Halton Stadium after experiencing a major fall-out with Warriors.
Hock was heavily criticised by Wigan, who stood by him during his two-year drugs ban and revealed he had refused to train with them in the close season in order to facilitate a move.
After being unveiled at a press conference at Widnes, Hock declined to comment on the breakdown of his relationship with his home-town club but spoke of his excitement at a season-long move to Widnes.
“Things have happened at Wigan,” Hock said. “It’s a fresh start and I’m really looking forward to it.
“There were a few clubs on the phone but I had my heart set on Widnes.
“I like being in a good environment and I’ve got a lot of friends here. I can’t wait to get playing.
“I know Denis really well. I’ve played with him. That was one of the reasons. It was an easy choice for me.”
Hock will also link up with former Wigan stand-off Kevin Brown, his brother-in-law, with whom he is currently sharing a house in Orrell.
He is currently sidelined with a shoulder injury but has set himself a target of making his Widnes debut against St Helens at the Halton Stadium on February 10.
“I’m looking at the second game,” he said.
“I’ve had my medical and it’s not as bad as they thought. I had four pieces of bone taken out and some cartilage cleaned up.
“I’m running and doing my rehab and I’ll start doing contact soon.”
Widnes faced competition from a number of clubs once Hock’s availability became known and Betts is delighted to get his man.
“I was made aware that Wigan wanted to put Gareth out on loan and we got on with it,” Betts said.
“I have a good relationship with Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan and, once we started in negotiations, I felt it was very important to get someone of Gareth’s quality into our team.”
Hock, who made a successful return to the Wigan team in 2011 and regained his England place last season, was lined up for a move to Australian club Parramatta in the winter but it fell through.
Wigan say Hock had insisted at short notice on the move to Parramatta and also revealed he demanded more money in mid-season and after, instigating a move to another Super League club, refused point-blank to return to rehabilitation and pre-season training.
Wigan chairman Lenagan said: “Gareth Hock has made it clear in face-to-face discussions with me and via his agent that he has no intention of playing for the Wigan club.
“This is hugely disappointing to me, to the Wigan fans and to the club who have all treated him well.
“We have gone to unique lengths to help him get his life back on track after his ban two years ago, including increasing his contract voluntarily on two separate occasions to help him financially against a backdrop of his threats to leave.”