RugbyL: Widnes boss Betts glad of Wigan supply line

Former Wigan star Denis Betts believes the rest of Super League should thank his old club for their ongoing supply of talented players, even going so far as to suggest rugby league would no longer exist in its homeland but for the Warriors' efforts.

Betts, now Widnes' head coach, could field a team featuring several Wigan old boys when his current club travel to the DW Stadium for a Super League clash on Saturday.

Although Widnes will be without the injured former Wigan trio of Stefan Marsh, Cameron Phelps and Kevin Brown as well as England forward Gareth Hock, who is prevented from playing against his parent club by a clause inserted in his loan agreement, Betts has six ex-Warriors in his 19-man squad.

Dave Allen, Shaun Briscoe, Jon Clarke, Ben Cross, Eamon O'Carroll and Joe Mellor are all set to return to their old club looking to prove a point -- a familiar scenario.

"Wigan must have that every week because I don't think there's a team in the competition that hasn't somebody who has come from there," said Betts.

"If we are being totally honest, if Wigan didn't exist, I don't think rugby league would exist or if it did it would be quite a small game.

"When you're trying to pick up players, the massive pool of players that are from Wigan who just fall off the edges when they get people pushing through or they recruit influences you," Betts said of the Lancashire giants.

"They just seem to produce more players than anybody else. You even get a lot of Yorkshire sides with players who've played at Wigan somewhere along the way."

Widnes lost 54-12 at the DW Stadium last season, their first one back in Super League, but Betts believes that a year on, any fear factor will have long since disappeared.

"When we went there last year, there were four or five lads who had never even been to the place, never mind played there," he said.

"They looked awe-struck, as if they were intimidated just by the stadium and the feeling of being at a club of the magnitude of Wigan.

"We're a different group now, with a different mentality."

Both sides will go into Friday's match on the back of defeats, Wigan having lost 18-14 to Leeds and Widnes hammered 46-14 by Catalan Dragons.

"Widnes are a very good team," said Wigan coach Shaun Wane. "They showed in the first half against Catalan last week that they can score tries.

"They are a force to be reckoned with and obviously they've a lot of ex-Wigan players. Joe Mellor, Eamon O'Carroll and Ben Kavanagh have all been in our system and I know them well."