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Betts tries to take some of the pressure off Brown ahead of debut
10:05am Wednesday 27th February 2013 in Sport
VIKINGS will hand a debut to marquee signing Kevin Brown at home to Hull on Saturday evening – but his boss wants to dampen down some of the fevered expectation.
Coach Denis Betts believes the former Huddersfield skipper will give the Vikings a massive boost throughout the course of the season, but is wary about expecting too much too soon from the half back who has not played for six months.
Brown had surgery on a damaged ankle over the Christmas period meaning that he has only really been training fully with the team this past fortnight.
He is nevertheless expected to partner Joe Mellor at half back, with brother-in-law Gareth Hock due to make his first start after coming off the bench in the previous two outings.
Betts said: “Kev is ready to go and likes the pressure and really wants it, but he has not played for a long time.
“He worked really hard with the team in pre-season but since his injury he has only been training in the team environment for the last two weeks.
“I am really aware that the expectation upon him is going through the roof.
“Everybody is expecting so much from him but he has not played for six months so we have to temper that.
“He is a great pro and it is testament to how hard he has worked. He is a really good pro who is fantastic to have around the place even though he is not been playing on game day.”
While dampening down expectations of Brown making an immediate impact, Betts knows the attributes of the player he is bringing in and how that will benefit the team over time.
“What he gives us more than anything else is that he is a dominant half back, so knows what he wants and knows how to get it and in doing so makes people around him better players.
“All the good half backs know how to make other people better because it makes them look good. Just like Shaun Edwards knew how to make people better, knew how to put you in the right place and told you where to be.
“Kev falls into that mould and has the ability to inspire the team by his actions but also to help them by putting them into positions.
“He has been good for Danny Craven, Joe Mellor and even Tom Gilmore because he can see what an international half back looks like,” Betts said.
Vikings had no game last weekend due to opponents Leeds playing their World Club Challenge game against Melbourne, but the blank weekend has enabled them to undertake some rigorous training.
Prop Ben Cross returns after serving his one match suspension, with broken collar bone victim Danny Craven being the only player unavailable.
Goal kicking wing Patrick Ah Van is in the frame to make a return, but he will have to dislodge Paddy Flynn or Willie Isa to do that. Cameron Phelps, who has recovered from the ankle injury sustained against Saints, will be competing with Chris Dean for the centre berth.
Vikings will have their work cut out against a Hull team that is now being guided around the park by former Salford stand off Daniel Holdsworth – a player Betts admitted to trying to entice to the Stobart Stadium.
“I approached Daniel when I first moved in here because I rate him really highly.
“He is a very good half back who galvanises teams. Hull missed him a lot last week against Warrington.
“But if I had a choice I would go with Kevin any day because of my history with him,” Betts said.
The Vikings are inviting Junior (Under 16s) supporters to attend the Hull FC fixture on Saturday for £5.
These tickets are on sale from the Vikings Superstore (within Tesco Extra).