Rugby League - Betts hails Wigan contribution

Former Wigan favourite Denis Betts reckons rugby league owes a huge debt of gratitude to his old club, going as far as to suggest it would not exist but for their prolific production line of talent.

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Rugby League - Betts hails Wigan contribution
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Denis Betts has hailed Wigan's contribution to rugby league

The Widnes head coach could field a Vikings team comprised almost entirely of former Wigan players for Saturday evening's meeting of the two clubs at the DW Stadium.

"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," Betts said. "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."

He went on: "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. 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."

Even without the injured ex-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 former Warriors in his 19-man squad.

Dave Allen, Shaun Briscoe, Jon Clarke, Ben Cross, Eamon O'Carroll and Joe Mellor will all make a return to their old club with perhaps a point to prove.

Wigan coach Shaun Wane is looking for his side to bounce back from their defeat at Leeds but insists he will treat the visitors with respect.

"Widnes are a very good team," he said. "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."

The teams will have one eye on the weather following the postponement of Wakefield's Friday night game with Leeds but Bradford's fixture against Catalan Dragons in Perpignan on Saturday is not in any doubt.

After winning their last two matches on the road, London Broncos seek their first home victory of the season when Hull visit the Twickenham Stoop on Saturday.

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