Brown's raring to go!
Thursday 20th September 2012
Brown's raring to go!
Having missed the final 7 weekly rounds of the 2012 Stobart Super League season at his former club Huddersfield Giants through injury, Vikings new boy Kevin Brown is now raring to go and keen to start his Widnes career as soon as possible.
The first team's pre-season training programme commences in late October but Brown is already on-site and familiarising himself with his new environment.
Following a workout in the gym, Kevin nipped into the club office to meet and greet some of his new workmates. Always keen to seize any opportunity for a chat, we sat the lad down and fired a few questions his way...
WV: Welcome on board. You must've been impressed by what club bosses have told you, having signed a deal until the end of the 2016 season?
KB: Obviously it was a massive decision. I was really enjoying my time at Huddersfield and had been there for seven years previously and being the captain, meant it wasn't something I did lightly. But, having spoken with Denis Betts, Paul Cullen and Steve O'Connor, I was tremendously impressed with what they already had in place such as the structures and facilities and what their plans were for the future. Having had these conversations, I knew that it was something I really wanted to be a part of and I'm excited and glad that I've joined the Vikings and I can't wait now to get started properly and meet the rest of the boys.
WV: Let's talk further about the facilities in place. The Stobart Stadium is certainly a well equipped venue and having everything on-site is surely a plus point, isn't it?
KB: It is, definitely! I'd never actually been over to the gym until after I had signed, so to say that I was blown away when I first seen it is a bit of an understatement. I mean no disrespect to any other clubs when I say this, but they would bend over backwards to have the type of facilities we have in place here at Widnes. Alongside the various pieces of equipment, I've also been impressed with the work that Clive Brewer our Strength and Conditioning Coach, has already put in place for the players to ensure they look after their wellbeing. The whole place just strikes me as a very professional set-up.
WV: Given you were already tied to a long-term deal at Huddersfield, had someone told you this time last year that within the space of the next 12 months you'd be pulling on a Vikings shirt, you probably would've laughed it off, wouldn't you?
KB: I probably would, but to be honest things in life can change very quickly and sometimes in an instant. Not too long ago, my Wife and I were fortunate enough to become parents and were joined by our son Harry, which was an amazing experience. On the back of this, we spoke at length about moving back to Lancashire and I was lucky enough to find there were a few clubs interested in me and prepared to pay a transfer fee to help me do this. As I said earlier though, from my very first conversations with Widnes, I knew there was only one place I wanted to spend my future and I'm really happy with how things have turned out.
WV: Looking back on your career thus far, you left Wigan for Huddersfield as a young man and after seven years in Yorkshire, you've returned back over the Pennines a seasoned professional. At 27 years of age, you must be hopeful that your best years as a player are still ahead of you?
KB: Absolutely, I've come here to get better! The stuff I learnt whilst at Huddersfield was tremendous but looking back to the very start when I was coached by and played alongside Denis, the bits and pieces that I picked up from him were also invaluable and have served me well throughout my career. Now I'm working with him again, I'm hoping I can pick his brain a bit more and get even more information out of him. The same applies with my new team-mates, I'm really looking forward to getting to know them, earning their respect, building up a relationship with them and taking that out onto the pitch. I've had my eye on things at Widnes and I was impressed with how the team turned its fortunes around at the back end of the season and looked a completely different side to the one that started the year and was on the wrong end of a few hidings.
WV: As an outsider looking in at that time it's great to hear you were noticing that things were on the rise for the Vikings, but was the continued improvement in the team recognised by a lot of players at other clubs who you spoke with?
KB: Yes, players were aware that Widnes were starting to find a bit of form but to be completely honest, there was still a fair bit of disrespect shown when I signed for the club. A lot of people were questioning the reasons behind my choice but many of them are completely unaware of the ambition and aspirations of Widnes Vikings and what is going on behind the scenes. On the pitch, turning over some of the ‘Top 8' teams last season certainly helped things and there is definitely a respect starting to grow for the club and people are now seeing Widnes as a competitive force in the competition. Having said that, I'm in no doubt that some people will still probably have us down to be the ‘whipping-boys' next year, but I don't think there is one person within this organisation who goes along with that way of thinking. We haven't spoken about goals for 2013 yet, but I'm confident we will be competitive all year ‘round.
WV: An ankle injury cut short your 2012 season at Huddersfield but having since been under the knife, I'm presuming you will be ‘good to go' for the Vikings and play your part in their pre-season training programme and trial games?
KB: I'm probably a week away from full fitness now and after a few more weeks of training on my own, I'll be reporting back with the rest of the lads for pre-season. In one sense I've been lucky that I was able to finish my season a little bit earlier, given how things turned out at Huddersfield, and come here flying and ready to get stuck in and used to my new surroundings.
WV: Switching clubs can prove tricky at times when it comes to forging new relationships, but with Shaun Briscoe and Dave Allen, two of your former Wigan team-mates on board, there'll be no need for any lengthy introductions will there?
KB: That's right and it's pretty much the same for every player joining a new club. I'm good mates with Ben Kavanagh and I've kept in touch with Eamon O'Carroll over the years, too. Rugby League is quite a small community and a lot of players already know each other which is a good thing. I've always found the lads involved in this sport to be very welcoming and it won't be too long before I get to know all of the other boys and I'm sure we'll get on really well.
WV: Back in early June, soon after your move to Widnes had been announced, the Giants travelled to the Stobart Stadium to face the Vikings. Suspension ruled you out of that game and you didn't feature but you were still given a hero's welcome by the Vikings fans as you made your way across the i-pitch to the North Stand. That must've been quite a bittersweet day for you overall?
KB: I remember it well and it was probably the first time in my career that I had taken too much notice of the fans of the opposition, because you are typically listening and looking out for your own supporters. The reception I received was overwhelming and something I will genuinely never forget. I walked over towards the TV gantry with Nathan Brown and Bob Fairbank, one of the young lads at the Giants, and he said to me that he had never seen anything like it before in his life and I admitted that I hadn't either. In one sense I found it all a bit embarrassing but pleasing by the same token. Obviously, I was still a Huddersfield player and I couldn't show my appreciation too much, because I still wanted to be respectful to the Huddersfield club and its supporters who had served me so well over the years. Even though a huge part of me wanted to, I was determined not to get too carried away and applaud back. Thinking back about it now, that day proved to me even further that I had done the right thing and the Widnes fans were behind me. It's up to me now to repay these people and reward them for the faith they have shown in me. I'm thrilled to have been offered the opportunity to play my part in the growth of Widnes Vikings and hopefully we can evolve together and become even stronger in the coming seasons.