WHEN Kevin Brown left Huddersfield Giants for Widnes Vikings during 2012 many people, understandably, questioned the departing captain’s decision.
The stand-off had played for England less than two years previously and, with Huddersfield, had helped turn them into one of Super League’s more threatening sides.
Widnes, on the other hand, were well on their way to finishing bottom in their first season since earning a licence, amassing just six victories all year and conceding more than 1,000 points.
This afternoon, however, Dennis Betts’s side will participate in the play-offs for the first time in their history when they head to Warrington Wolves in an elimination tie.
Part of the reason for that has been the brilliant form of Brown, his creativity and leadership guiding them to eighth spot and seeing him been voted into Super League’s Dream Team – the first Widnes player to ever achieve that feat – for numerous authoritative performances.
Brown, who turns 30 next month, recalled: “I remember signing for Widnes and everyone saying how daft I was joining a club that would never feature in the play-offs.
“I’ve been really proud to be part of this club. (Chairman) Steve O’Connor and Denis Betts really sold it to me.
“This now is the biggest game of the season for us. It will be loud and intense for the whole of the 80 minutes.
“It’s a good reward for being consistent throughout the year,” he said.
That consistency also included a run to the Challenge Cup semi-finals where they missed out on a first Wembley appearance since 1993 with, admittedly, a poor display against Castleford Tigers.
Nevertheless, that experience will have readied them for taking on Warrington today, their Cheshire rivals who are hoping to eventually secure a third successive Grand Final appearance next month but then lift the trophy for the first time.
Furthermore, Widnes are buoyed by the knowledge they have already beaten Warrington this term and in emphatic style, too.
Tony Smith’s fifth-placed side remain favourites but Brown – who more people are backing for a recall to Steve McNamara’s England squad – said: “We’re confident going into this as underdogs and very rarely get mentioned as favourites.
“Hopefully we can take some of the lessons learned from big games like the semi-final and make it right against Warrington.”