WIGAN legend Denis Betts expects Michael Maguire’s troops to be the team to beat again in 2011.
The Warriors ended their 12 year title drought by winning the Grand Final on October 2 – their first Super League crown in 12 years.
That achievement crowned a stunning debut season for Maguire, that saw the Warriors storm to the top of the ladder and claim the league leaders’ shield.
Their mean defence and sweeping attacks impressed many observers, including Betts, who is tipping them to be even stronger next term.
The former second-rower spent some time in the Warriors camp last year after leaving Gloucester RU.
And he said: “I thought they were outstanding.
“Michael always had a plan and it probably came together quicker than he thought it would. The place was ready to get better and Michael had the ability to build a culture and translate that on to the field.
“ They did fantastically well and I was really pleased for them, and the fans.
“The players showed a commitment to be the best, they had that desire, and that’s why I think they’ll be even stronger next year. We saw last year that every player, individually, improved and that has a massive influence on the team.”
Wigan have signed three players for 2011 – Melbourne trio Ryan Hoffman, Jeff Lima and Brett Finch.
And Betts, who is back in rugby league as coach of Championship outfit Widnes after five years in union with Gloucester, has no doubts the Warriors have the right man at the helm to drive the club forward.
“I was very impressed with Michael,” he said. “I’m good friends with Stephen Kearney, who worked with Michael at Melbourne and he couldn’t speak highly enough of him.”
Betts coached Wigan for a year from 2004 before being forced into an assistant’s role when Ian Millward was brought in. He resigned later that year and switched codes.
The former Great Britain Test favourite – who made a staggering 367 appearances for Wigan from 1986 to 2001 – takes charge of Widnes for the first time in a Boxing Day friendly against Warrington.
“It’s great to be back in rugby league,” he added.
l For a full interview with Betts see this week’s Wigan Observer.