Brown set for Vikings bow
Stand-off Kevin Brown will make his Widnes debut this weekend - against the man who would have already been wearing the Vikings number six shirt had coach Denis Betts got his way.
Former Huddersfield Giants captain Brown was Betts’ big close-season recruit before the arrival of the player’s brother-in-play Gareth Hock but missed the first month of the campaign after damaging an ankle in training.
Brown, who turned 29 earlier this month, is now fit and is set to make his Vikings bow in Saturday's Super League home game against Hull FC, with Betts keen to lower expectations on the former Wigan Warriors favourite.
"Kev is ready to go and he'll be in the 19-man squad," Betts told reporters at the Halton Stadium. "He likes the pressure but he's not played for six months and he's only come back into the team environment in the last two weeks.
"I'm really wary that the expectations on him could go through the roof. Everybody is expecting so much from him and we're trying to temper that a little bit."
Brown, who played for England in 2010, stunned Huddersfield last May when he opted to leave for family reasons and agreed a three-year contract with the Vikings, much to the delight of Betts.
"He's a dominant half," said Betts, who was a player at Wigan when Brown was coming through the ranks and later coached him. "He knows what he wants and how to get it and he makes people better players.
"He's a great pro and it's testament to how hard he's worked that he’s come back in such great shape. He's been fantastic to have around the place even when he's not been involved on game day."
Brown is expected to go up against Australian stand-off Daniel Holdsworth, who missed Hull's home defeat by Warrington Wolves last Saturday through concussion.
Betts rates Holdsworth in the same bracket as Brown and revealed today that he made an attempt to sign him 18 months ago when he was a Salford City Reds player.
"I approached Daniel when we first came into the competition because I rated him highly," he said. "We were looking at half-backs and I think his kicking game is second to none in the competition.
"We thought he could do a good job here for us, that he could be that half-back that could make us a good unit.
“I feel fortunate that it didn't come off because I ended up finding other options and, given the choice, I'd go for Kevin every time because of my history with him. I didn't think he'd be available to be honest."
After being on the bench for his first two matches, Hock will make his first start for Widnes, who also welcome back prop Ben Cross from suspension.