DENIS Betts is confident Widnes Vikings are learning to cope with expectation ahead of a ‘massive’ fortnight for the club.
Vikings host Hull KR in Super League on Sunday, kick-off 3pm, before a Challenge Cup semi-final clash with Castleford Tigers the following week.
And Betts believes the pressure of competing on both fronts is a great learning curve for his side.
“These two weeks are a massive part of the year,” he said. “It’s all part of the learning curve.
“We’ve not been fighting relegation, we’re actually learning to cope with expectation.
“Being successful is a different kind of pressure that a lot of these players have never encountered.
“Fighting for a place in the eight, fighting for a place in the final, two and half years in after seven in the Championship.”
However, the boss knows the importance of a win in Round 23, with their play-off rivals Hull KR lurking one point behind.
“It’s huge,” he added. “We need all our supporters here to get behind us.
“We have to go into this game looking to put the best possible team out to get the best possible result.
“We need some confidence going into the game the week after.
“The players have worked hard to be in the eight all year, probably achieved above everybody else’s expectations.
“Now our expectations have changed and at this stage of the year we don’t want to surrender that.”
But with Chris Chester recently taking over as the Robins’ head coach, Betts knows it will not be easy.
“They’re trying to prove a point,” he explained. “We know it’s going to be a tough game.
“We’ve got four huge games left in the season after that, Huddersfield, Wigan, Bradford and Salford.
“If we can put in a good performance and get some points on the table it gives us breathing space.”
Kevin Brown is fit again after suffering a knee injury against St Helens last Thursday, while Eamon O’Carroll and Phil Joseph may also return.
But Cameron Phelps could miss the rest of the season after separating his clavicle from his upper chest against Saints.
Betts said: “He’s pretty brave really, scoring two tries in the second half and playing most of the game because we’d already lost somebody.
“It’s minimum four weeks, possible eight, there’s not much you can do but rest it. It’s not great for Cameron, because he wants to play these games.
“It’s a horrible thing about professional sport. You have to move on very quickly but they’re left with the pain of not playing.”