Betts cuts ties with Wigan after 17 years

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The Independent Online

Denis Betts, who has been synonymous with Wigan for the best part of two decades, has resigned and cut his ties with the club.

The former Great Britain second-rower had been working as assistant coach to Ian Millward, since his demotion from acting head coach when the new boss arrived midway through last season.

Two weeks ago, Betts refused to take on responsibility for the club's Under-21 side and, from that point, his days looked numbered.

"When you've been somewhere for 17 years, man and boy, it's a painful decision to have to make," he said of his resignation.

Betts has been doing some consultancy work in rugby union with Gloucester, but said that night that he did not intend to turn his back on rugby league.

The New Zealand stand-off Nigel Vagana will be free to play in the Tri-Nations final, should the Kiwis get there, after being suspended for just one match for the tackle that left Great Britain's Paul Deacon with a double facial fracture last Saturday. Vagana was found guilty of a careless high tackle and also fined £500, but the ban will only rule him out of the Kiwis' international in France this Friday.

Australia have included Trent Barrett in their squad to play Great Britain at Hull on Saturday, despite doubts over his recovery from a foot injury.

Barrett is in the plans for the game that will decide who reaches the Tri-Nations final, along with two other possible half-backs in Craig Gower and Scott Prince.

"Trent Barrett is an issue for us," admitted the Kangaroo coach, Wayne Bennett."He trained well today, so it will be a matter of how he pulls up. If Trent's out, I'm happy with Prince and Gower. That's one of our strengths in Australian rugby league - we've got the depth."

Bennett was wasting little sympathy on Great Britain, who will be without Deacon at Hull and may yet have to find replacements for Paul Wellens and Brian Carney. "We've had our own problems and they've probably been overlooked because we're Australia and it's just expected that we are always going to have good players," said Bennett.

He also dismissed fears that Australia could renege on its agreement to stage the Tri-Nations, which is largely his brainchild, next year.

"We'll play in Australia next year and there's not one player who doesn't want to be there," he said.

The St George-Illawarra forward Lance Thompson could look to revive his career in England after leaving the club by mutual agreement. Thompson, who had been accused of sending a threatening text message to a team-mate, has been linked with Leeds.

The struggling National League Two club, Gateshead Thunder, have pulled back from the brink of extinction, thanks to new investment.

The North-east outpost club had looked set to fold after the breakdown of merger talks with the Newcastle Falcons, but now a consortium of backers and three new sponsors have come to the rescue.