Widnes captain Kevin Brown believes all Super League teams live in fear of the Qualifiers. The Vikings survived the Qualifiers last year relatively unscathed, although they were pushed to their limits by Halifax at The Shay.
And although Brown believes the experience of playing in such high-pressure situations will help the team in the future, the influential skipper is keen to avoid a repeat in 2016.
“There has always been that desperation to get into the top eight, but it is the fear that spurs you on,” he said.
“The Middle 8s will be a really good competition and one I don’t want to be involved in. If teams do just take their eye off the ball they will get beat.”
Last year, Leigh and Bradford were the obvious threats to the Super League teams keen to maintain their status in the elite division. Brown believes that a Super League team will be relegated in the future under the current league structure.
“The Championship is thriving now,” said Brown.
“As much as we don’t like the thought of being relegated, I think it is great that there is an access route for them and that a lot of teams are going tooth and nail.
“Leigh were a serious threat last year, as they showed in the Challenge Cup. They’re full-time, spending masses of money and they’ve got quality throughout. They have three halfbacks that are superb, they’ve got a pack as good as any Super League pack and a real good captain in Micky Higham.
“They’ll take some beating, as will Bradford and even Featherstone as Jon Sharp has got them going.
“Halifax aren’t far off. They showed last year they’re good enough. They battered Leigh, they gave us an absolute fright and we had to really switch on. It was a really tough game. They have some underrated players. They’re as good now as they were when they had Gavin Clinch and Martin Moana.
“A really good side could end up struggling and going down because of injuries. You do fear that, because the teams from the Championship are on a roll in the Qualifiers and they’re dying for a crack at you. At some stage, a club will get caught and go down. It will happen.”