New season countdown: Kevin Brown says new look Salford 'feeling good'
Kevin Brown hopes there is an X Factor about Salford this season.
But he admits there is a ? Factor, too.
With a new coach at the helm and a clutch of new players in the side, the Red Devils head into the campaign with a sniff of uncertainty about them.
“There is confidence there,” says the veteran half-back Brown. “But there’s also a bit of unknown, because we’ve got a new coaching staff, a new conditioner and six or seven new players.
“We’re all feeling good and we think pre-season has gone well, but only time will tell.”
Anyone who has listened to Brown as a pundit on Sky Sports or the BBC knows he is insightful and thoughtful.
So it’s no surprise that when he talks about Salford’s upcoming campaign, he doesn’t reach for the tried-and-tested cliches.
Having only just been edged out 17-16 by Leeds in a gripping Challenge Cup Final last year – and having reached the previous season’s Grand Final – other players may talk of looking to build, of going one better.
Brown? At 36, and having played and lost in six finals during a fine career, he is far more philosophical.
“There are two, three or four teams who make the finals, and if you are competing at the top, that’s all you can hope for because there are so many variables that go into it,” he said.
“I think back to last year’s Challenge Cup. We got to the final, nearly won it ... but we could have gone out at the quarter-final against Catalans.
“We scraped through with Dan Sarginson scoring in golden-point, and that’s what I mean – there are such small margins at the top. Look at the Grand Final.
“So if we can go out every week and expect to win, we won’t be far off.
“Yes, we will come up short sometimes because we’ll play against better sides or the bounce of the ball won’t go our way, but we’ll give ourselves a chance.”
Former St Helens assistant Richard Marshall has succeeded Ian Watson as Salford coach while the recruitment of Joe Burgess, Jack Wells and Morgan Escare strengthens an ex-Warriors contingent which includes Lee Mossop, Greg Burke and Brown himself.
Having played his junior rugby in St Helens and starting at Wigan in 2003, his snaking path has taken him to Huddersfield, Widnes, Warrington, Leigh and Salford, with England honours along the way.
Now in the twilight of his career, and enjoying a testimonial, he has yet to decide if this will be his last as a player.
“I’m off contract and a lot of people think I’ll retire, but I’ll make the decision down the track,” he said. “If I’m feeling good and there’s a contract there, I’ll go again.”
Either way, Brown has already started planning for the next stage of his career, operating a coffee shop and a healthy-eating restaurant as well as spells as a media pundit – a route he hopes to pursue.
“I started doing punditry at Huddersfield and I really enjoy talking about the game,” he said. “For whatever reason, the coaching is not something I’ve been looking to do.
“Punditry, I enjoy analysing the game and really, that’s what I do as a player. I’ve never been blessed with super-strength and super-speed, so I’ve always been thinking about the game, reviewing, previewing... and I’m quite vocal, too.”