Kevin Brown believes the lessons learned by Warrington Wolves in 2018 are standing them in good stead as they gear up for another tilt at league and cup glory.
The stand-off and his Warrington team-mates reached both the Challenge Cup final and Super League Grand Final last year, only to come up short on each occasion against Catalans Dragons and Wigan Warriors respectively.
With another appearance at Wembley on the horizon and Steve Price’s side sitting second in Super League going into Friday’s clash with Wigan, live on Sky Sports, the Wolves squad are bearing in mind one of the most important lessons from those matches.
Wigan Warriors vs Warrington Wolves
August 16, 2019, 7:00pm
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“Probably it’s that you’ve achieved nothing until you’ve achieved something,” Brown told Sky Sports. “Last year was so close, but so far away.
“We got beaten by Catalans, who were underdogs, and Wigan in the Grand Final, so it was a bit of a disappointing whole to the season where it could have been such a successful year.
“But I think the experience of losing those finals and playing in those big games, everyone has been a part of them now and they know how to prepare for them and what the surroundings are like – especially at Wembley next week.
“It’s not going to be too unfamiliar for them, so hopefully we’ll be much better suited to have a tilt at Saints next weekend.”
While Warrington’s players are fighting it out for the domestic game’s top honours, Brown will be spending the rest of the campaign with Championship side Leigh Centurions aiming to help them win promotion back to Super League after a two-season absence.
It has been a frustrating 2019 for the 34-year-old, who suffered an ACL injury just one week before the season was due to get underway and was expected to be out for the entire year as a result.
Brown, though, was able to agree a loan deal with Leigh ahead of last Friday’s transfer deadline and is looking forward to getting back out on the pitch again, starting with this Sunday’s visit of former club Widnes Vikings.
“I just want to play,” Brown said. “I had a chat with my agent and said it would be disappointing if I didn’t play after working so hard, and then the opportunity came up to play for Leigh.
“They want to get promoted and it will be a big challenge going there – because I’ve never played in the Championship – to see what it’s like.
“I’ve played against a few of the top sides in the Cup, so I’m looking forward to it and, with all the hard work I’ve done in training, I’m ready to go.”
Blake Austin has grabbed many of the individual headlines at Warrington this year and Brown is impressed with the impact the former Canberra Raiders half-back has made at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
But the progress of some of the club’s younger players has excited him too, particularly 23-year-old former London Broncos forward Matt Davis and teenage duo Josh Thewlis and Riley Dean, both of whom have made their debuts in recent weeks.
“Matt Davis is only a young lad who has come from London and he’s been terrific,” Brown said. “He’s worked his way into the team on merit, working hard and doing the things no-one sees which the coach demands.
“But then the really young kids in Josh Thewlis and Riley Dean have been terrific.
“They’re both terrific talents and have massive amounts of potential. Riley has just turned 18 this week and Josh is still a baby at 17, and it’s frightening how good they can be.
Brown is coming towards the other end of his career, but has no plans to hang up his boots once his current deal with Warrington expires at the end of the season.
He is feeling refreshed and revitalised after nearly eight months rehabilitating from injury and is in no doubt he has plenty left to offer at Super League level, wherever he ends up for 2020.
“I’m feeling great,” Brown said. “The recovery I’ve had, I’ve not had this since 2003 because I’ve either been playing straight through with international sides or training.
“I’ve never had this kind of break, so mentally and physically I feel good. I’m pretty sure I’ll play on next year, I’m loving being back on the field with the lads, so I’m not ready to retire yet.