One thing you can’t accuse Francis Cummins of is shying away from a challenge.
His two head coaching stints have seen him take charge of a Bradford side under horrific circumstances and plagued by off-field turmoil, and now he’s in control of a side looking in serious threat at the bottom of Super League.
The two jobs have their similarities alongside their quite obvious contrasts, but the goal for Cummins remains exactly the same, and that’s to get the best out of his players under testing circumstances.
While taking on the Widnes gig would be seen unfavourably by many, Cummins can’t think of a better role.
“As a head coach this is what it’s all about, it’s where the coaching goes on,” he said.
“Sometimes I think it could be easier and you can look at clubs and be a bit envious of all the money, all this and all that. It would be easier, but when coming back in the car I’m thinking I wouldn’t want to be in any other place, this is what it’s all about. It’s a challenge but this is what coaching is about. I wouldn’t want to be in any other position, because if we do get through it I know there is no better feeling than coming through the other side.”
While the threat of relegation lingers, the job at Widnes is plain sailing in comparison to his time at the Bulls, an experience he thinks he’s better for having.
“I’m in a similar position to when I was with Bradford I suppose.
“But I’m not having to ring other clubs asking if I could have some white paint for the pitch, or trying to get the internet back on and wondering if the doors are going to be locked. I’ve not been promised money and players when it’s not there. I know the situation, I’m not being told one thing and management doing something else, they’re actively doing their best.
“We’ve been honest with the situation where Bradford was bizarre. We’ve had a few players out at Widnes but they’re coming back now and they’ll feel like new signings. We had nothing like that at Bradford. It’s not the same, I’m working with a much more honest group of people here.”
Their place in the Qualifiers is now locked in, but they could still have a major influence on the shape of the middle 8s, by beating Leeds, which would consign the Rhinos to the same fate.
“What they’ve done is like us, they’re in that position because of what they’ve done. They’ve still got a good roster, for us, it’s just about playing well and if we do that I think we can win the game, but we’ve been saying that for five or six weeks.
“You can see that with teams at any part of the division. We’re getting ourselves into positions where we could win the game, last week was a fantastic effort, but we made some silly errors and I said to the boys it was as if the ref had said the next try wins. People are a little bit desperate because of the situation. We need to show more patience.”
But despite their painful losing streak, Cummins doesn’t believe breaking the run at this moment is imperative.
“It would be nice, because the longer it goes the bigger it becomes. Not so much for me as I’m looking at the process of improvement, but it would be nice, there’s no doubt.
“We could still lose both and be in a better place than we are now. Two competition points aren’t as important as they were a few months ago, but if we get good performance and see improvement, that’s a benefit. If you’re saying to me I can have a win in the next two it would be great, especially as one is on my own patch, but if I had to trade those two games for wins in all the Qualifiers that’s what I’d do.”