Fax sign England Knights half back Gilmore from Widnes

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Halifax have made their first major signing for 2020, snaring Widnes half back Tom Gilmore on a one year deal.

The 25 year old playmaker effectively replaces Ben Johnston, one of several departures confirmed by the club in the run up to Sunday’s final Championship game against York at the Shay (3.0).

Boss Simon Grix had made a new half back - partly as a long-term replacement for veteran skipper Scott Murrell, partly to address the club’s attacking issues - a top priority for next season.

Gilmore, whose early career was disrupted by injury, was a Super League regular for the Vikings in 2018, earning him selection for the England Knights squad.

“It’s no secret we’ve been looking for a half back,” said Grix, who was quick to move on the last player recruited to reinforce that position - former Swinton pivot Ben White - after he took charge following the exit of Richard Marshall.

“We needed to plan for life after Scott and Tom plays that similar organisational role.

“He’s got a strong kicking game, but he can also run the ball and he brings other players into the game, which is an important part of his job.

“He’s probably not had his best year personally, but the issues at Widnes have been well documented and I think that’s probably made it difficult for everyone.

“The fact he was selected by the Knights a year ago says a lot about the talent he has and I’m really pleased we’ve been able to bring him here.

“We’ll make sure he has a good pre-season and try and get him playing with a smile on his face again.”

Who partners Gilmore next season remains to be seen, with Murrell and Londoner James Woodburn-Hall, who scored two tries against Rochdale last weekend, the current frontrunners, assuming Grix does not dip back into the market for a second playmaker.

“I think he could play with Scott, even though they’re similar in some respects,” said Grix.

“James is going to be a full back or a half; those are his best positions and him and Tom would probably complement each other.

“But those are positions where you need to be involved in the game all the time, you can’t do a bit here and a bit there.

“Listen, what James did on Sunday was good and I don’t want to take anything away from that.

“But it’s doing it against the teams around us and above us; that’s where I hope he can get to and I’m sure he is too.

“I’d like him to force me into a position where I have to pick him in one spot, whether that’s half or full back.

“But that’s more on him than it is me.”