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Warriors old boys can add spice to occasion
VIKINGS boss Denis Betts knows his side will have a massive mountain to climb when he returns to the town where he won every honour in club rugby league as a player.
But the Wigan old boy is hoping that the pride and motivation to do well comes out from the numerous ex-Warriors players in the Widnes ranks.
Widnes travel to Wigan for Monday night’s televised fixture where Betts expects the league leaders to have a fair bit of motivation themselves after their loss at the Stobart Stadium earlier in the campaign.
Betts, who won six league titles, seven Challenge Cups, the Lance Todd Trophy and the Man of Steel award while wearing the famous cherry and white hoops, will get a good reception from the home faithful.
He said: “Wigan is in my blood – I owe everything that I am to that club. The game doesn’t owe me anything, I owe everything to rugby league and that club was a big part of it in giving me an opportunity and platform to play on.”
Betts is hoping the passion to do well against their former club comes out from Shaun Briscoe, Stefan Marsh, Ben Davies and Jon Clarke who came through the ranks at Wigan as well as from Ben Cross, Cameron Phelps and Dave Allen, who also had spells for the Warriors.
He said: “There is always a motivation to play well against the team you used to be involved with. We have got Wigan lads who came through their system and that will add a little bit of spice to those lads and hopefully a bit to their performance as well.”
Vikings know full well that it is going to be tough to live with a Warriors side that has wiped the floor with all-comers in recent weeks.
Betts said: “We want games like this and taking our supporters to these big games.
“We know it is going to be hard but we are going to go to Wigan and fight really hard. The only problem is we beat them here earlier in the year – and I’m sure they won’t be bringing it up this week.
“This is the challenge for us – they are top of the league and beating the top sides by 50 points, giving likes of Saints, Leeds, Huddersfield and Catalan a good hiding.”
Widnes pulled off a surprise win – one of only three so far this term against an admittedly under strength Warriors in early March.
Betts know that this will be a different ball game – especially because of that result.
“Wigan know they will have to come after us and play tough. If they had played for 80 minutes last time around the result would have been different.
“Shaun Wane has worked on them being ruthless and aggressive the way they play the game. We have got to be able to match up front against the Mossops, Lauakis, McIlorums, Hocks and Limas and then handle Sam Tomkins out the back,” he said.
Wigan lost half back Thomas Leuluai with a broken leg sustained in Saturday’s Exiles game, but that will not mean Widnes losing the services of loan player Joe Mellor back to his parent club.
Betts confirmed that Vikings have the Wigan youngster on a month by month basis so, having served his one-match suspension, Mellor will be free to play at the DW Stadium.
His future, however, could well be reviewed at the end of June given Wigan’s needs but there has been no discussion of that as of yet.
Betts revealed that Wigan old boys Shaun Briscoe and Stefan Marsh are due to return, leaving him with a selection headache in the backs as they seek to build on their last solid outing at London.
“They are both running around now and available for selection but then again Cameron Phelps has been playing well.
“Likewise Willie Isa seems to be finding a bit of form in the centre and doing some good stuff, and Chris Dean needs to be playing constantly, too.
“This is where I have wanted to be all year with the selection process,” Betts said.
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