Denis Betts puts faith in young halves for Vikings' Super League opener (From Runcorn and Widnes World)
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Denis Betts puts faith in young halves for Vikings' Super League opener
VIKINGS will be without their two big name signings for Sunday’s Super League opener in London, but nonetheless they will aiming to get off to a good start against a Broncos side that finished last term with a flourish.
Although not fit for the opener, the signings of Gareth Hock and Kevin Brown have created a buzz at the Vikings – on and off the park - and intensified competition for spots.
Coach Denis Betts said: “Kevin will play in February – the same as Gareth - they are not far off.
“They are training well and working hard. It is good to see them about and getting on with it now.
“Kev is frustrated because he was flying in training before his injury and it was just one of those things.
“Gaz is one of those players who everyone hates playing against and wants him in their side.
“It is nice when you look around and he is in your team.”
In Brown’s absence two young Vikings have been charged with the responsibility of taking the team around the park – and both Joe Mellor and Danny Craven have caught the eye in the off-season games against Warrington, Workington and Huddersfield.
And those youngsters pushing through continue to excite coach Denis Betts as much as the club’s calling card elite signings.
Betts said: “We have a half back pairing of 20/21 in Danny Craven and Joe Mellor - Kevin Brown will be competing for one of those spots and adding to that mix.
“It is exciting to see Danny and Joe go at it, just like I am excited about a lot of our players this year across the board – like Paddy Flynn, Rhys Hanbury and Stef Marsh, who will step up and Chris Dean has been outstanding in pre-season.
“On top of that you have a lot of lads in the front row competing and working hard for each other.”
Vikings have a tough opening two months with fixtures against big guns St Helens, Hull FC, Catalan, Wigan and Warrington all encountered in the first eight weeks.
But Betts does not see a trip to the Broncos as a relatively easy fixture, despite the teams finishing two points apart at the basement last term.
“London is a team that we were around last year on the table and they are a team that improved towards the end in a similar vein to us, in that they got a group of players that seemed to click in adversity.
“They play an exciting game and if they keep Craig Gower fit then they are going to be a force to be reckoned with.
“We know it is a challenge to go to London and get a win.
“Our goal is to go there and be competitive and let the scoreboard take care of itself,” he said.
Since Tony Rea assumed control of the Broncos coaching reins the club enjoyed a big improvement in form, winning five of their last six games of 2012.
For Sunday’s game at the Twickenham Stoop, Vikings still have Cameron Phelps sidelined with a slight calf strain, but other casualties Shaun Briscoe, Steve Pickersgill, Stefan Marsh are all available for selection.
Betts said after a good off-season, in which the work hardly stopped, the team just cannot wait to get out there and play for points now and that anticipation has built the closer kick off draws nearer.
“You can sense the excitement building now, about selection and who we are playing.
“That is nice the thing about playing again – the players feel the buzz, rather than just getting flogged every week.”