Denis Betts must be wondering why he was so desperate to make the top eight when he saw the Super 8s fixtures.
With the unenviable trip to Catalans first up, the Vikings have been given just five days to recover and prepare for their game against the current league leaders Hull FC in Thursday’s televised clash.
If that wasn’t a tough enough deal of the Super 8s cards, Betts is also dealing with an injury crisis, with Rhys Hanbury and Chris Dean being ruled out of the clash following head injuries in France.
It is a situation that has forced the new England assistant to get creative as he tries to mastermind a second victory over Hull this season, however, one of his more inventive approaches to fielding a team has already been knocked back, with his assistant and former Man of Steel winner Brett Hodgson hastily rejecting the idea of him coming out of retirement.
“Brett Hodgson has already said no. He said no at Catalans. he looked at them and said no, so he probably knew what I was thinking!
“With a five-day turnaround, and on a five-day turnaround from France, you’re going to have a 20-minute session before the game. You just get to bed, get in the ice bath and get a massage. You just get ready to play. You’ve got to find a centre and wing combination, and a back-rower because one of your back-rowers is going to play at the centre you’ve not got, and then find three subs that you’ve not got.”
In such difficult circumstances, the fixture generator only made things more problematic by handing his side a clash with the current league leaders and Challenge Cup finalists.
“It’s probably a good job that the best team in the competition this year is coming and on the back of being flogged the week before and having to respond,” Betts joked.
“That’s the challenge of these games, after such a long year and the way the fixtures fell for us, having to go to Catalans and having to turn around against Hull five days later who have had an extra day, it’s tough. But we’d rather be in this position (than the Qualifiers).”