Denis Betts wants his Widnes side to learn from past mistakes and push further up the Super League table in 2016.
The Vikings were unlucky in their fight for the top eight last season, ultimately finishing in 9th place ahead of the split and had to contend with fighting for their place in Super League in the Middle 8’s.
Betts’ side did cement their place in Super League quite comfortably, however their downfall in 2015 was being on the wrong side of tight matches in the regular season.
The Widnes head coach made reference to this many times throughout last season, and when asked about how the Vikings could change those tight losses into victories, Betts believed that most of it is down to the players’ mentality and memories.
“You have to keep the mind set strong no matter what situation you may find yourselves in,” Betts told Love Rugby League.
“It’s all about experience, you have to go through these things to know how to come out on the other side, and it’s been a massive learning curve for us over the last couple of seasons.”
Betts was quick to make reference to the progress of his side over the previous twelve months, despite the fact they finished a place lower than the previous season, and he was insistent that the performances of his side back that up.
“A couple of years ago, we were winning tight games and then we would be losing games without being involved in them at all,” he said.
“But if you look at last year, we were a lot more competitive and a few times we lost games we didn’t deserve to, and the question for us to solves this season is how do we close these games down when it’s in our favour?
“Over the last two or three years, there has been a bit of an evolution happening in the group, and we’ll only get better after going through those experiences of previous seasons.”
In terms of the upcoming Super League season, Betts is under no illusion that the quality of the competition is always improving, and has acted accordingly with some smart recruitment in the form of Chris Bridge, Setaimata Sa and Corey Thompson.
With the new signings joining the Select Security Stadium and only improving the quality of Betts’ squad, does the Vikings head coach have a target for his team for next season?
“It’s a very cliché thing to do to be honest, but you ultimately need to have goals and a focus on a certain aspect to work towards,” he said.
“We don’t really want to work like that, though. Every day is a challenge and every training session and game is a different hurdle for us to jump, and we need to be aware of what’s in front of us each week.
“From that, we’ll prepare the team as a whole of how culturally and philosophically of how we want to play, we tidy that up around who we are coming up against.”
With players such as Kevin Brown and Chris Bridge speaking about how this group is as good as any they’ve seen at the club in years, Betts is insistent that the Vikings are in control of their own fate in 2016, and to not focus on what other teams and people have been saying in pre-season.
“For us, we want to work on tiny little steps of improvement and how we can move forward as a group, and that’s what I want us to focus on this season, and not what other’s have been saying. Our main mind set has been and always will be on how to get better as a team.”