By Adam Leah
Kevin Brown believes the new signings Widnes have made are capable of helping the club clinch a play-off spot in 2016.
The Vikings have recruited Chris Houston and Corey Thompson from the NRL as well as bringing in Chris Bridge from Warrington, Setaimata Sa from Hull FC and Connor Farrell on loan from Wigan.
Despite performing well last season, Widnes failed to pick up enough wins to qualify for the Super 8s and Brown says improving their defence is key to securing more wins this campaign.
“We’ve done a lot of work defensively to improve,” said the Widnes skipper.
“We lost a lot of games last year in which we worked really hard and played well but fell just short and it was hard for me to hold my hands up and admit we weren’t quite good enough.
“That in some ways more demoralising than getting stuffed because at least if you get beaten badly you know you’ve got it in you to perform better.
“This year we’ve got genuine talent across the team- we haven’t just added squad players. The new guys have jumped straight into the first-team and are capable of winning us games on their own. With players like Chris Bridge and Setaimata Sa, you pass them the ball and they do things off their own back, make breaks and create opportunities for us to get over that line.
“A top-eight finish is a minimum for us this year. We don’t just want to finish in the top-eight and say “job done”. Our aim is to finish there and then hopefully shake the Super 8s up.”
After finishing the regular rounds in 9th place the Vikings dropped into the Middle 8s where five wins from seven games guaranteed their Super League spot for 2016.
Widnes conceded just 70 points across those seven matches and Brown says he was pleased with how the side performed in the Middle 8s.
“I think as a spectacle it worked really well,” said the former Wigan and Huddersfield player.
“You don’t want to be involved in the Million Pound Game but I’m sure a lot of people tuned in to watch it. The attendances and atmospheres were good in the Middle 8s and everyone got behind it.
“Once we got over the anxiety and the fear of “what happens if?” we just approached it the same as we would approach a Super League game.
“Nobody wanted to drop out of Super League again after all the club has done in recent years so full credit to our boys for coming through it and performing in a spectacular fashion.”
In an innovative move by the club for 2016, Brown will be involved in a ‘Captain’s Call’ decision each week in which the half-back will choose which kit the Vikings line-up in.
The skipper will choose from either an all-black or an all-white strip but insists it will have little bearing on how the side performs.
“I’m looking forward to getting the stick when I pick the wrong kit!
“The weather will come into it- if it’s going to be red hot I’ll pick the white kit. It’s a bit of fun but at the end of the day it’s not going to have a bearing on how we play.”