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Widnes Vikings head coach Denis Betts content with just two warm-up fixtures

Widnes Vikings faced League 1 outfit Whitehaven on Friday night, picking up a 62-0 victory in only their second pre-season fixture of 2018.

It was also their last warm-up game, as Denis Betts’ side will not play again until their season opener against Catalans Dragons on Sunday 4th February.

Despite only facing Warrington Wolves in the Festive Derby and Whitehaven prior to the beginning of the Super League season, the Vikings’ head coach is content with their preparations.

“We got what we wanted,” commented Betts.

“I’ve looked at our trial games over the last three or four years and I have never been really sure what we got out of them in the end.

“We beat St Helens a couple of times in pre-season and had a good go with a couple of young kids in there, but we have also suffered lots of injuries from pre-season games.

“I can honestly say, at the moment, we have come out of that game and we are in pretty good shape.”

Injuries hit Widnes hard last season, as they managed to avoid the Million Pound Game with a victory in France in the final game of the Middle Eight’s.

Their only injury concerns at the moment are Gil Dudson, who is recovering from a back operation, and Alex Gerrard, who is out with a calf problem.

Those losses will be offset by the addition of Wellington Albert, and now his brother Stanton Albert who was announced as a new signing on Friday morning.

Their Papua New Guinea team mate Kato Ottio was due to link up with the Vikings, and Betts praised his player’s response after what he described as a ‘strange week’ following the death of the highly rated prospect.

“Wellington (Albert) is going to be a big part of our squad, as Kato (Ottio) was going to be, but we have to support him in different ways and we have managed to secure bringing his brother over which is going to be a real positive with him.

“Wellington was what I was really after with his size, and Stanton (Albert) was just on the outside of it and it all happens that it fits really well now because we need someone to support him.

“I have got a couple of front rowers that won’t start the season because of injuries and now I have got a couple coming in that will hopefully give us some real big punch.

“The hardest thing is that for the game itself it’s just a shocking thing, across all sports, for something like that to happen to a 23-year-old sportsman. That’s what is really tough to take.

“We feel that he was a member of our squad, it is tragic what has happened to him and we are trying to support everything around him and the people that are involved with him.”

During Widnes’ comfortable victory over Whitehaven bucket collections for Ottio’s family raised £4296.71, taking the total of their crowd funder to over £14,000.

The Vikings boss also hailed the support that has been shown from the club’s fans since the tragic news.

“It’s unbelievable, when you think about how much money (has been raised), not only in relationship to being in Papua New Guinea, but £14,000 and more because we are going to keep on going until the Catalans game,” added Betts.

“It could be touching £20,000, which is a massive tribute from all the people of this town and this club that we can do such a thing.”

My name is Sean Hayes. I am from Widnes, England. I am currently studying journalism at Salford University. Aspiring sports journalist and rugby league fanatic whether it is watching, playing or writing about the greatest game! Follow me on twitter @SHayesNBL

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