From Perpignan to Loughborough via unfamiliar rugby union circles, Daryl Powell and Denis Betts are now back facing each other once more at Castleford as coaches of the two most improved Super League teams.
Powell, who has led Castleford Tigers’ surprise charge up the table, sees his side host Widnes Vikings tomorrow, a team that has made a more gradual ascent to the point where this fixture is probably the tie of the weekend.
The duo are, of course, well remembered for their stellar playing careers, centre Powell mainly with Sheffield Eagles and Leeds Rhinos and his counterpart as a powerful second-row for a pre-eminent Wigan team during the 1990s.
Furthermore, ahead of tomorrow’s meeting, Powell recalled how he also made his Great Britain bow with fellow replacement Betts during the 8-4 victory at Stade Gilbert Brutus in 1990.
Handed his chance by Malcolm Reilly, alongside two more great Castlefordians in Kevin Beardmore and Andy Goodway and with the likes of Garry Schofield, Ellery Hanley, Martin Offiah and Andy Gregory also featuring, he said: “I did make my Test debut at the same time as Bettsy in France.
“He was a great professional and a superb back-rower who had a bit of speed, too.
“He played well at international level and when he went to Auckland, which makes him an outstanding player.
“He’s had a little bit of time in rugby union like me and I actually did my Level 5 coaching course with him at Loughborough Uni.
“It was interesting rubbing shoulders with the union people – who were all highly educated – and there was me and Bettsy sat there! But he’s shown what a great coach he is when he’s come back into the game with Widnes.”
Betts, 44, left Gloucester to take up the Widnes post in 2010 and eventually oversee their return to the top flight.
“Widnes have really gone under the radar; they’ve grown year-on-year since they came back into Super League (2012), whereas we’ve improved in one big chunk,” said Powell about opponents who sit in sixth spot.
“They’re two points behind us and they’re a very good side.”