Kevin Brown insists he would have retired if he didn’t think he could produce his best rugby at Salford – and says he’s in his best physical shape for years.
The 35-year-old has joined Salford from Warrington, after spending most of 2019 on the sidelines following a serious Achilles injury.
Given his age, there were doubts over whether Brown could return, but a short-term deal at Leigh at the end of the season shaw him return to playing earlier than expected: and he told League Express that he feels as good as ever in preparation for 2020.
“The surgeons told me if I’d done this injury at 25, it would be a 12-month layoff,” he revealed. “Being on the wrong side of 30, they said it would take much longer. I saw that as a challenge and wanted to push it.
“I’m doing things now that I haven’t been able to do for a decade. Linking back up with Greg Brown (Salford’s conditioner who he worked with at Huddersfield) is really pushing my fitness to new levels. I think I’m in better shape than I have been for a long time.”
Brown continued: “As soon as I feel I can’t offer someone anything, I will retire instantly. I’ve got unfinished business with Super League; I had big aspirations last year and didn’t achieve them due to the injury, but I’m loving training, loving how tough it is and when that feeling stops, I’ll be done. But I’m not done yet.”
Brown admits he was also thankful for the opportunity to play at Leigh at the end of last season – saying it gave him the mental and physical confidence in preparation for a big year at Salford in 2020.
“It was massive to go there,” he admitted.
“I hadn’t done much training on the field so to get out there and have three 80-minute performances, it showed me mentally that my Achilles could hold up to it. I see the long rest as a positive now – at the time I felt really heartbroken that I couldn’t be part of Warrington’s team but it’s done me good. All the bumps and bruises I’ve been carrying have been ironed out.”
Brown is a direct replacement for Man of Steel Jackson Hastings at Salford next year – but he insists he doesn’t see it that way. “I’m not thinking like that,” he said.
“My pressure is only on me, performing and making sure I do what Watto wants me to do. I’m not comparing myself against Jackson.. he did so much for this club and that’s nothing to do with me. What I will say is that seeing how hard people work around here, what Salford did last year was no fluke. The level of detail is refreshing to see and hugely encouraging. It’s so meticulous.”