Frustrated Betts aiming upwards with Widnes

Widnes coach Denis Betts admits that the 2016 campaign so far has left him frustrated, rather then unequivocally pleased.

The Vikings finished the first phase of the season in seventh place in the table, with a points difference of plus 25.

Both of those achievements were things that Betts and his coaching team had targeted ahead of the campaign.

But he feels that with a little more luck in tight and close games, his side could have been much higher in the table.

“We’re frustrated more than anything else this year,” he told Love Rugby League.

“We’ve been frustrated with a couple of soft performances, but we’ve also been frustrated with the fact that we’ve actually played really well and come out on the wrong side of some really tough games.

“We set some targets at the beginning of the year, and the main one was getting into the top eight, and what happens on the back of that, who knows?

“The other target was looking at out for and against, and it being positive.

“We’ve been in the top eight all year, and we’ve been positive all year. That’s one of the strong points in the team we’ve been striving for.

“Predominately over the last four or five years, the teams who have finished in the top half of the table ahve been positive.

“So that was one of our big challenges.”

Despite meeting those initial aims, Betts is a long way from being satisfied with how his team’s season has so far transpired.

“I haven’t hit any targets this year,” he said.

“There’s only a couple of things to work on. If you ask any Super League coach from one to 12 what they want to do and they want to finish in the top eight.

“You get three or four of them who want to be in the top four and the Grand Final.

“Our starting goal was to be in the top eight all year, and we’ve been in the top eight all year.

“Now we look at the next phase, which is to get to the semi-finals. Then we move on from there.

“We’ve got a tough challenge ahead of us. We’re 14 points off the top, but six points of Catalans and only eight points off St Helens.

“They’ve got some tough games around them and they’ve got some big challenges themselves.

“So if we can get on a run like we did at the beginning of the year, then who knows what can happen.”

Much of the focus on Widnes is on star stand off Kevin Brown, but Betts believes that is strength in depth in his squad apart from Brown.

“Everybody wants the best players and Kevin is a fantastic player,” he said.

“He’s an international quality player.

“On the back of that he’s supported ably. Joe Mellor has grown in stature supporting Kev, Aaron Heremaia has been fantastic for us throughout the year.

Lloyd White has got better and better. The introduction of Chris Houston this year has been good.

“He’s just a great rugby league player. He’s been really solid for us.

“As well as that, the lads who have been here a long time – the likes of Hep Cahill, Magraff Leuluai and Rhys Hanbury – they keep stepping up and getting better.

“So we’ve got a good solid base in the squad.

“It’s about keeping them healthy and keeping them motivated, and helping their understanding of what’s important in the game, week-in and week-out.

“That’s been the challenge this year.”

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