Denis Betts confident Newcastle Thunder’s bold Super League aim is possible

Denis Betts insists Newcastle Thunder’s bold aim of winning Super League by 2030 is achievable – and could be done earlier.

Former Wigan and Widnes coach Betts is director of rugby at the ambitions Championship club, who have signed a host of Super League players for 2021 including Ukuma Ta’ai and Jake Shorrocks. The club outlined their grand vision at the end of 2019 and Betts insists the marker is exciting rather than daunting.

Betts said: “You have to aim high – why are you a professional club and what do you want to achieve? We want to be in Super League and if you’re in Super League, you want to win it.

“All we’ve done is given ourselves a timescale to work hard, and I’d like to think we could achieve it before that, that’s what my goal is. If we can get into Super League in the next couple of years, assemble a side and develop some youngsters that go into the group, what’s to say we can’t do it before then?

“It’s not the end point, and not succeeding by 2030 wouldn’t be the end point either – we’d dust ourselves down, reassess and have some other goals and aspirations. We can’t say that it’s not doable, but we also recognise that it’s a very tough ask.”

Betts – who has appointed his former Widnes player Eamon O’Carroll as Thunder’s new coach – says his move to the north east has galvanised him again following his exit from Widnes in May 2018. He added: “When I first went up to Newcastle I had that feeling there was something special there.

“There’s an enthusiasm about the place and a passion that maybe got washed out of me over the last couple of years. It’s been reinstated and I’ve been reinvigorated by the desire to be successful in that area.

“We’re not an expansion club, we’re a developing club. We’re not just dropping the game in here, it’s been in the area for a long time, well before Gateshead Thunder, and there will be rugby league teams here for a long time to come.”

Betts says Thunder take inspiration and guidance from “big brother” Newcastle Falcons and their achievements over the last two decades, with Mick Hogan a director at both clubs. In a year that will see the city host both Magic Weekend and the World Cup opener between England and Samoa, Hogan maintains that their Super League ambitions are realistic.

Hogan said: “We can’t be fast-tracked by being a nice dot on the map. We recognise we’ve got a lot of work to do – we’ve got a growing fanbase but we need it to be far bigger, a good stadium, and an academy that’s producing players, but which needs to produce more and of a higher quality.

“It’s a journey that’s well under way, and we’ve publicly stated our ambition to win Super League by 2030. That’s not just a nice headline, we all truly believe we can do it. But we don’t underestimate the size of the task.”

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