Betts praise for retained players

While much of the pre-season talk has been about the 16 new faces in the Widnes squad, coach Denis Betts has been impressed by the commitment of the players that have remained at the club from the Championship.

The Vikings, who learned of their fate back in March 2011, finished 5th in the Championship last season, but a number of players earned Super League deals, including Paddy Flynn, Simon Finnigan, Ben Kavanagh and Steve Pickersgill.

Betts, however, pinpointed the progress of former Wigan juniors Thomas Coyle and Dave Allen, who both have a handful of Super League appearances between them already.

He said: “They love it. This is what they wanted. These players have come from an environment of training two or three nights a week and having to work every day, to training very hard in the day.

“Tommy Coyle has been really working hard, he’s been outstanding in pre-season. Allen has had a taste of Super League before, and he knows the opportunity is there, so he has worked hard. They’ve bought in to it, and put in a lot of commitment.

“It took some adjusting, it took hard work, but they’re all really enjoying it. It’s been a real collective effort, everybody is working hard, and they’ve been really committed to trying to improve.”

It’s been seven years since Widnes last started a season in the top flight, and they go up against Wakefield on Friday night in front of the SKY cameras.

Betts added: “It’s really good to be back involved. I’m ecstatic. The players are ecstatic. We’re all really excited. Expectations and aspirations don’t mean too much, we’re involved now, and it’s our chance to be part of the show.

“We’ve worked hard throughout the off season in our belief system, and what we can achieve if we can commit to things.

“Our home games are important to win, but it’s more critical that we perform. No one’s giving us an opportunity, everyone thinks we’re going to finish near the bottom. All we’ve got to do is go week in week out and keep improving.”

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