Jan 22 2013
Widnes coach Denis Betts is confident he can get the career of controversial England international Gareth Hock back on track.
The 29-year-old back-row forward joined the Vikings on a season-long loan after Wigan revealed he had effectively walked out on them. Hock spent 17 years with his home-town club and had three years left on his contract, but has almost certainly played his last match for them after Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan revealed details of a major bust-up.
Betts, who played alongside a young Hock in the latter days of his Wigan career and briefly coached him at Central Park, said: "I'm made up that he chose to come here. I believe we've people here who can help get the best out of him. Gareth has presence and an ability to turn a game."
He added: "I've worked with him. I know what his strengths are and I also know what his weaknesses are. He's a great player, a great trainer and he plays every week. They're the kind of qualities we're looking at."
Lenagan, who stood by the player in 2009 when he was handed a two-year ban for using cocaine, claims Hock expected the Warriors to sack him when he refused to return to training in the winter.
He says Hock demanded a wage rise in mid-season and then insisted on being given permission to join Australian club Parramatta for 2013.
That move fell through because the clubs were unable to agree a transfer fee and Lenagan says Wigan turned down bigger offers from their Super League title rivals before accepting the move to the Vikings, who finished bottom of the table in 2012.
Wigan, who have retained Hock's registration and inserted a clause preventing him from playing against them, say they will receive "a significant ongoing fee" from the Vikings, but Betts is delighted with the deal and hopes to keep the player beyond the end of the season.
"I've no opinion on what happened at Wigan," Betts said. "All I know is that Gareth was available. It's not cost us any money, it's a loan deal. We're not a club who can afford to pay substantial fees.
"We'd like to secure him for longer but at this time Wigan weren't willing to go into that. Maybe they still see him as part of their future, I don't know. There is a clause in there that gives us an opportunity to talk to Wigan at a point within the season."