Betts disappointed over player exits

Widnes Vikings head coach Denis Betts wants Widnes to move on from the loss of big name players ahead of the new season.

Players such as Jack Owens, Willie Isa and Danny Galea have all departed the Select Secruity Stadium in the off-season, leaving the Vikings with big holes to fill in their squad.

Betts admitted to being disappointed at losing these players, and said losing Jack Owens to St Helens was a situation that he was left with little choice.

“It’s always hard to let good people go as you’re always trying to retain good players,” Betts told Love Rugby League.

Jack Owens was a fantastic young player, he’s a local lad and it was a really tough decision. But where he sat in our squad in a salary cap environment, it was hard for him to maintain the level he was on because of where he was in our club.

“We had a good conversation with Jack, he’s been fantastic for us and I gave him his debut when he was 16. I just couldn’t guarantee him a start in the position he wanted because he’s a fullback.

Rhys Hanbury has been fantastic for us so Jack is sitting around hoping for Rhys to lose his form or gets injured and that’s a tough thing for a kid who needs to play rugby.

“Big clubs can manage things like that, they can hold onto players and have real squad depth, we don’t have that luxury as what we’re trying to do is to work towards the salary cap.”

Widnes also lost fan favourite Willie Isa to Wigan during the winter, and Betts admits frustration to losing Willie to an error that could have been avoided.

“The situation with Willie was just a genuine error from himself and his agent,” he said.

“We got to a point where there wasn’t any money left and he invoked some clauses in his contract. We tried to sign Willie early, we sat down with him very quickly as he has been fantastic for us but these mistakes can happen in a professional environment.

Despite the departures, Widnes have recruited well ahead of the 2016 season and the 46 year-old is happy with the squad he has assembled and wants the different pre-season regime to have a positive effect on his side.

“But despite the losses, all the new signings have settled in really well in pre-season,” he said.

“They have integrated really well and we’re looking for a strong start just like last year and hope to build on it.

“We’ve gone about pre-season a bit differently this year as we’ve come in early and we’re worked hard but we gave a bit of time off to players who have played continuously over the last couple of years.

“So that has meant our whole squad hasn’t really come together quite yet, but we’re trying to foster an environment here and a culture where everyone sticks together to benefit us in the season and it’s my responsibility to make sure that happens.”

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