Betts: 'Gregory's absence will not disturb Wigan'

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The Independent Online

Denis Betts said yesterday it is business as usual at Wigan Warriors, despite his role expanding to fill any gaps left by Mike Gregory's illness.

The Wigan assistant coach will cover for Gregory when the coach travels to the United States next month for treatment on an undiagnosed infection that has caused muscle wastage and problems with his speech.

"Mike's still coaching... and even when he's in America, he'll only be a phone call away. He's very much part of what we do," Betts said. "Mike's a fantastic bloke and everyone feels for him. It's something you wouldn't wish on anyone.

"Our relationship is no different. He's still sharp as a tack and still knows what he wants."

Betts revealed that Wigan's three injured backs, Brian Carney, Martin Aspinwall and David Hodgson, all have a chance of recovering in time for the Challenge Cup final in Cardiff on 15 May. If none of them make it, Desai Williams, who made his debut against London last weekend and is in the squad again against Castleford on Saturday, could play in a final in only his fourth first-team game.

The St Helens coach, Ian Millward, who will oppose them that day, has sent Gregory his best wishes for a full recovery.

"There's rivalry, but there's compassion in the game as well," said Millward. "I'm sure he'll battle through it. He's a tough character."

One of Wigan's most legendary players, the Cardiff-born winger, Billy Boston, is to lead the side out at the Millennium Stadium.

St Helens say they have received no evidence to back up allegations that two of their players, Sean Long and Martin Gleeson, placed bets against their own team over Easter. The club's chief executive, Sean McGuire, has criticised the Rugby League for setting up a hotline for further information about the case. "It's unwise, because it solicits gossip," he said.

Long hopes to play against Leeds on Friday night, despite further damaging a knee in the Challenge Cup semi-final victory over Huddersfield.

Widnes have re-signed their former player, Craig Weston, for the rest of the season. The Australian utility back was with the club throughout their first season in Super League in 2002 before going home.

"He's going to play some games over there to get back his match fitness," said the Widnes coach, Neil Kelly.

The Widnes hooker, Shane Millard, will play at Wakefield this Sunday, despite having a wound in his head opened up in order to remove part of a tooth belonging to Castleford's Dean Ripley, which had been lodged there since their match last Sunday.

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