TWO players look to have been ruled out of Widnes Vikings’ opening game of Super League 2018.

Prop forwards Gil Dudson and Alex Gerrard are set to miss Sunday’s home clash with Catalans Dragons at Halton Stadium.

Vikings head coach Denis Betts said his squad go into the season’s first contest in much better shape than last year.

“At the moment I’m only looking probably at Gil and Alex not being up for selection from my top panel.

“So that’s a real positive as keeping bodies on feet is something we didn’t have last pre-season.

“It’s one of the things we struggled with last year, keeping the lads in a good frame of mind.

“The positivity of the new signings Krisnan Inu, Wellington Albert and Stanton Albert has been good, and there’s the ability maybe to bring somebody else in if we find the right person.”

By the time Vikings kick-off on Sunday it will have been three weeks since their last friendly against Whitehaven, a 62-0 win, while some of their rivals played last weekend.

Betts felt his men found some of the rhythm they were looking for in that victory over the Cumbrians and there has been 13 versus 13 opposed training since.

“We’ve been able to train at a better level on our own,” he said.

“We’ve a decent academy set-up now with some really good kids.

“And those kids are trying to push themselves into our top squad, so it’s been pretty intense in a few of our 13 on 13 sessions.

“The proof’s in the eating, not in the pudding.

“We all look pretty good at the moment, our training’s gone really well, everybody’s really healthy, the numbers coming back from some of our testing is really positive so we’re in a good place physically and mentally but we’ve got to get on the field and perform.”

Former England head coach Steve McNamara took over the reins at Catalans at the back end of last season and Betts knows he will have started to stamp his own DNA on the French outfit during the close-season in the aftermath of surviving the Million Pound Game against Leigh Centurions.

“He’s probably done things a little different through their pre-season than they would have been used to,” said Betts.

“You’re bound to get a little bit of a kick and a change after he has had a little bit of time with the group to enforce what he wants.

“I think it would have been hard last year coming into that group, especially with the mindset that they had at the point of the season they were in.

“I think he’s brought in some high quality players.

“David Mead’s a good signing, Lewis Tierney’s gone full-time there now and is pretty happy and settled.

“I think Samisoni Langi is a really solid acquisition because he’s a very good player. Luke Walsh is still there, Paul Aiton too.

“They’ve got a great group of players and it’s going to be a really tough game.”

Betts’final message to the fans is: “Be excited by your team, be excited by what we’ve done with our recruitment, be excited by the youth that we are developing and get behind us.

“That’s what this club needs. It needs its supporters, it needs the people who are going to drive it forward and that’s the people who turn up on game day.”