Betts: Cas game will be vital
Widnes Vikings aim for lift-off when they meet fellow strugglers Castleford Tigers in the Stobart Super League tomorrow.
The Vikings have never been out of the bottom two since winning back their place in the top flight at the start of the season but a third win of the season would take them above London Broncos and to within two points of the Tigers.
All three of Widnes’ wins, including the notable scalp of Wigan Warriors, have come at the Stobart Stadium and coach Denis Betts admits he has had his sights set on this fixture for some time.
“We’ve had one eye on the Cas game,” he said. “I think this game and the rest of our home games this year will give us an ability to not finish bottom.
“That’s what we’ve got to aim for, to put our strongest possible team on the field and get the best results we can.”
Betts has lost Shaun Briscoe and leading tryscorer Paddy Flynn to injuries sustained in last Monday’s defeat at Wigan but he is able to recall skipper Jon Clarke, Wigan’s on-loan centre Stefan Marsh and hard-running forward John Kite.
Winger Flynn will have to wait to make his 100th appearance for the club but former Wigan prop Eamon O’Carroll is set to make his debut after joining the Vikings from Hull FC this week.
The 24-year-old Ireland international has made only one start in Super League this year, along with nine appearances off the bench, but has been included in Betts’ 19-man squad and is raring to go.
“My body feels good,” he said. “I’m feeling fit and ready to go and I’m looking forward to pulling on a Vikings shirt and getting out there on the pitch and playing.
“I’m well aware I’ll have to work hard to secure a place in the team. I’ve got no right to just turn up and expect to be offered a place immediately when there are lads all around me who have been doing a job all year.
“Having said that, if I am selected, being thrown straight in at the deep end against Castleford is something I will relish, especially with the game being at home and in front of the Widnes fans.”
Castleford, who beat Widnes 36-12 at home in May, are still without Rangi Chase, who is suspended while the club investigate an alleged breach of discipline, and have a doubt over captain Danny Orr, who hurt a knee in last week’s defeat at Leeds Rhinos.
Rookie winger James Clare is in line to make his second Super League appearance in place of the suspended Richard Owen.