Denis Betts believes Widnes can secure their place in Super League with a victory over Leigh on Sunday.
Both teams are currently locked on four points in the Qualifiers and occupy third and fourth place in the mini-series, with the Vikings currently occupying the final automatic safety spot while the Centurions are currently holding a Million Pound Game position.
The winner of Sunday’s contest will move two points clear of the Million Pound game with just three rounds of Qualifiers action remaining, while the defeated team will find themselves two points adrift of automatic safety.
The Vikings head coach, who was notably in a buoyant mood ahead of the contest, admitted there was no hiding away from the enormity of the match.
“You get to a point where for us and Leigh this game puts us probably in a place where we can secure our time in Super League next year on this game,” he said.
“Whoever wins this game gets a foothold on that second or third spot. In the context of where we are this a really important game.
“We’ve trained that way, we’ve thought that way, our processes through the Warrington, Halifax and Featherstone games have been building towards where our performance levels need to be for these type of games which are do-or-die.”
With careers, contracts and mortgages all on the line for the Super League players involved in the relegation battle, Betts admitted it would be foolish to try and talk down the importance of the clash.
“The psychology is pretty simple,” he said.
“You’re not going to be able to get away from the nerviness and you won’t get away from the edginess because of what is at stake.
“We’re not trying to hide behind anything and say it’s not a problem because it’s not true and they know it’s not true.
“It’s like trying to hide things that go on in the real world. There’s no point trying to hide from the fact that these games are about unity within the group and an understanding of what is expected from each individual in the group.”
Betts admitted that Chris Dean could make his return from a three-month injury absence, having missed a large chunk of the season with an upper body injury.
“Chris Dean is in the mix and ready to go now,” Betts said.
“He’s training well, he looks in good shape. Whether I pick him or not is different but it’s nice to have these players in the squad ready to play.”