Widnes Vikings captain Kevin Brown believes that the quality throughout the entirety of Super League is “different class” to what it was when he made his debut 13 years ago.
Brown’s Widnes have been tipped by League Express pundit Garry Schofield to finish bottom of the table this year, but in what is predicted to be the closest Super League yet, with all 12 teams seemingly strengthening, Brown admits it’s a real slog each and every week.
Brown recalled when he made his debut for Wigan as a teenager in the early 2000s, and admits there used to be games where you could play badly and still win.
He told TotalRL.com: “The quality across the board now is a different class. When I was a kid at Wigan we used to play teams like, no disrespect, Leigh and Halifax, and you could play poor and win by 50.
“You were basically mucking about, and then you go and play Leeds or St Helens and you’d have all the best English boys, all the best overseas imports all in three or four teams. You’d have a handful of tough games a year but now it’s just week after week, there are genuinely no easy games.”
Brown also believes that despite attracting much criticism during its existence, the implementation of the salary cap has gradually made a big difference.
“The salary cap has played a part in that and people are calling for it to be raised, but you don’t want to see any more clubs going bust or a big gulf in class again, so I find it almost being like in a different league to what it was like when I started.”
Brown’s teammates attracted plenty of criticism after they lost their opening pre-season friendly to Warrington in late December, but he insisted he was never worried.
“You can read into pre-season, but people have to give us a chance to get going.
“It’s tough because you don’t ever want to lose to Warrington and you don’t want to lose by 40, but I saw those lads before that game; we had 16-year-olds making their debut in a derby game but what they took out of it is a lot more than what I would have taken from it when I’ve played 300 games.
“The experience they got is invaluable; obviously we’d have liked to have won the game but you’re asking kids to compete with Ashton Sims and Kurt Gidley, and it just won’t happen.
“It was disappointing that we got a bit of backlash from that but obviously we played our full team against Saints and it was a real good game for us. I won’t look into it too much though because we had players going on and off – although I wasn’t surprised we won the game.”