Vikings ready for battle - Betts
1st March 2013
Widnes Vikings coach Denis Betts says his team have been energised by their week off as they look to return to winning ways against Hull FC at the Halton Stadium tomorrow.
The Vikings were without a fixture last weekend because opponents Leeds Rhinos were playing in the World Club Challenge, but that gave them a chance to lick their wounds following a 44-18 thrashing by Hull KR.
It also left Betts with a near full-strength squad to select from, with young stand-off Danny Craven the only player unavailable as he continues his recovery from a broken collarbone.
“It’s been useful to energise them, to work them and give them a chance to recover,” Betts said.
“Having so many bodies available is good because the intensity goes up. Everybody is fighting for a place.
“We have to be aware that at Hull KR, the first 40 minutes wasn’t acceptable and the lads understand that. They’ve worked really hard to correct it.”
England back-row forward Gareth Hock will make his first start tomorrow after two substitute appearances and he will be joined on the pitch by his brother-in-law Kevin Brown, who will make his Widnes debut after recovering from ankle surgery.
The classy stand-off joined the Vikings on a three-year contract from Huddersfield Giants at the end of last season and will tomorrow make the 250th appearance of a career that included four appearances for England in 2010.
Betts switches Rhys Hanbury to full-back to accommodate Brown alongside another exciting prospect, Joe Mellor, a move he says was a straight-forward decision.
“It would have been a lot harder for me if Danny had been fit,” he said.
“It will help Joe, who is a sensational player. His confidence is growing and having someone like Kevin around him will help him because he understands how to control a game.”
Hull will be out to erase painful memories of their last visit to the Halton Stadium, which ended in a crushing 42-16 defeat by the 2012 wooden spoonists.
“It will be very tough,” said Hull centre Kirk Yeaman. “I don’t want to look back on last season but they showed us that, if you don’t turn up and you’re off your game, they’ve got players who can put points on you.
“We know it won’t be easy as they’ve signed some decent players in Gaz Hock and Kevin Brown.
“Kev brings a lot of organisation and he likes to run with the ball as well. He’ll give them a big lift but hopefully we can go there and shut him out and pick up the points.”
Catalan Dragons will be confident of getting back to winning ways when they return to the fortress that is the Stade Gilbert Brutus tomorrow for the visit of Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
The Dragons lost just once on their home ground in the regular season in 2012 and beat Salford City Reds 40-6 in their only home match so far this year.
They lost at Warrington a fortnight ago and dropped a point against Castleford Tigers last Sunday but Laurent Frayssinous is reasonably content with his first month as head coach.
“We’ve had four games and three of them have been away from home,” he said. “We’ve had two good performances and one at Warrington that was not bad.
“We could have won last week’s game so I think it’s not too bad, especially going in without the likes of Scott Dureau and Lopini Paea.
“Three of our next four games are at home but our aim is just to perform consistently.”
Wakefield pulled off a surprise win in Perpignan in 2011 and coach Richard Agar, who was last week appointed as France’s part-time coach for the World Cup, is relishing another visit.
“It’s a good trip to make,” he said. “The positives far outweigh the negatives.
“This time we’re going a day early. We’re the type of group that thrives on the time together, they really enjoy one another’s company.”