Six tackles: Potential replacements for Denis Betts at Widnes

Francis Cummins is the current interim head coach of Widnes. Here are six potential names that could lead the side on a permanent basis in 2019…

Jimmy Lowes

With the recent news of former Bradford Bulls coach Jimmy Lowes leaving rugby union’s Yorkshire Carnegie, it would be the perfect return for the former forward.

Lowes, a five-time Great Britain representative, last coached rugby league in 2014, leading Bradford to the ‘Million Pound Game’ the following year, but losing out their place back in the top division by Wakefield.

Lowes is an experienced coach, also assisting Tony Smith at Warrington Wolves, and his appointment at Widnes could be exactly what the side need to get back on track in 2019.

Richard Marshall 

When searching for the best rugby league coaches, you can be sure to find some on English soil.

Richard Marshall has had an brilliant year with Halifax in 2018, who currently sit third in the Betfred table despite their low budget. Fax find themselves just a point away from second placed Toulouse Olympique and their efforts can’t be faulted so far this year.

They have only lost four times in 15 matches, including just one loss at the MBI Shay Stadium, and Marshall finds himself one of the standout coaches of the year.

If Widnes are looking for someone with a big of magic, Marshall is their man.

Iestyn Harris

Iestyn Harris, a former Wales representative and coach, has been away from the coaching scene since his departure from Salford Red Devils in 2015, but Widnes may be the perfect return.

Harris played more than 350 games in his playing career as well as a switch to rugby union where he represented his country just after 200 minutes of playing the code.

While his time at Salford wasn’t the most flattering on his CV, Harris has proved to be a successful coach, including his move under Shaun Wane at Wigan, which included a Challenge Cup victory and a Super League Grand Final title in 2013.

Harris is still found within the sport, often appearing on BBC’s Super League Show, but is it time for the man to return to the action?

Shaun Wane

Before anyone doubts this move, hear this out.

Shaun Wane, who has confirmed he will be leaving the Warriors at the end of the current season, will be searching for a new challenge and Widnes could be just that.

He has won just about everything at the Warriors, from Challenge Cups to World Club Challenge titles. He has won five trophies as head coach and will look for a new task next year.

While linked with roles in rugby union and the NRL, a man who trusts in his youngsters as much as Wane could be the perfect match for the Vikings, who should be credited for their successful academy products in recent times.

Francis Cummins

If Francis Cummins proves to be successful for the remainder of the 2018 season, there’s no questioning whether the club will offer him the full-time role.

Currently holding the title of ‘interim head coach’, Cummins joined the Vikings for the 2018 season, assisting Denis Betts.

The former Great Britain and England international spent four years as assistant coach at Leeds Rhinos before making the move to Bradford Bulls, becoming head coach in 2012.

Cummins has an uphill task for the rest of 2018, including ongoing injury struggles – the most recent being Hep Cahill out for the season – and a climb from the bottom of the table. But if he can show an improvement, the club are likely offer him the full-time position.

James Ford

The York City Knights coach has been outstanding in 2018 and a promotion to a top-flight team may be the next big step for the former player.

James Ford, who took charge of York in 2015, has nine wins in 11 in the 2018 League 1 season. The Knights sit just two points behind table toppers Bradford Bulls.

York pushed Catalans Dragons all the way to the end in the fifth round of the Challenge Cup, but eventually went down 34-22 to the Super League side.

Widnes may be taking a big risk if they were to promote the coach by two divisions, but it may be one that will reap the rewards in time.

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