In a move which has been what plenty of Widnes fans have been calling for, the Vikings have parted company with their head coach Denis Betts.
Currently sitting at the foot of the table with only six points from fifteen matches, fans believe that the club has been on a downward spiral in recent years and – while they don’t solely blame Betts – are glad that there change is afoot at the club. The club look like certainties to miss out on the top eight in Super League and, therefore, should feature in the Middle Eights, facing another relegation battle after the split. Their struggles are often traced back to the sale of Kevin Brown ahead of the 2017 season and, vitally, their failure to sign an adequate replacement.
Initially taking the hotseat ahead of the 2011 campaign, Betts took Widnes to fifth place in the second tier in his first season in charge and saw the club awarded a Super League licence for three years from 2012. With their first season back in the top flight seeing them finish rock bottom, there were steady improvements which saw the club reach the play offs in 2014 before they finished seventh in 2016 after a remarkable start – six wins from their first seven.
However, since that campaign, the club have a win rate in the region of 10% and, despite keeping the club in the competition at the end of last season, the fans have been voting with their feet. Those supporters are just one group of people Betts has himself targeted in press conferences post match alongside criticism of the team as a whole – and individuals – as well as his coaching staff.
Widnes are one of many Super League teams who have been hit hard by injuries – and that shouldn’t be questioned as one reason for their poor season – but the Vikings board have made the decision that a coaching change needed to be made and, after a lengthy tenure at the helm of the club, Betts has today departed the club with immediate effect. Francis Cummins is believed to be taking over coaching responsibilities for the time being.