Brown 'living the dream' before World Cup final
|Rugby League World Cup final: Australia v England|
|Date: Saturday, 2 December Kick-off: 09:00 GMT|
|Coverage: Watch live coverage and highlights on BBC One, Connected TV, online & the BBC Sport app; live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live; live text commentary on the BBC Sport website & app|
England stand-off Kevin Brown said he is “living the dream” as he prepares to take on Australia in Saturday’s World Cup final.
The 33-year-old, who came into the team at the end of the group stage, will play alongside Luke Gale in the halves.
“I’ve had a lot of highs and played in a couple of finals but nothing close to this,” said Brown.
“Playing for your country in a World Cup final is the absolute pinnacle. I could do this forever.”
Brown did not feature in England’s group games against Australia and Lebanon, with Gareth Widdop playing alongside scrum-half Gale.
But he was brought in against France, with Widdop switching to full-back, and has helped add some structure and organisation to the team.
He could now be part of the first European team to win the World Cup for 45 years.
Brown said: “It sounds like a cliche but doing it with these lads makes it so special. They are such a dream to be involved with.
“We all get on, we are all living the dream, that’s the feeling. We said before the semi-final: ‘We’ve got one more week in us.'”
England survived a late fightback to hold on and defeat Tonga 20-18 in their semi-final in Auckland and will now take on the Kangaroos, who have already defeated Wayne Bennett’s team in this tournament and are hot favourites to win.
Brown came into the tournament after a mixed season for Warrington, who finished a disappointing ninth in the Super League table.
“I feel it’s even more special because I’ve done it the hard way,” he said.
“I had a really tough season at Warrington and didn’t know if I was going to get picked.
“I got picked and was then sort of on the outer in the squad but I was just determined to take my chance if I got it and I feel I have been doing that and contributing well, having a bit of a calming influence and adding a bit of structure.”
Five reasons for England fans to be optimistic
Brian Noble was the last man to coach a side from the northern hemisphere to victory over Australia in a rugby league match – presiding over Great Britain’s 23-12 victory in Sydney in 2006.
He will be in the commentary box alongside Dave Woods on Saturday as the game is broadcast live on BBC One, with coverage starting at 08:30 GMT.
And the 56-year-old believes there are plenty of reasons why England fans can be optimistic of pulling off a major upset:
- Sam Burgess. “He’s a big-game, big-pressure player. He’s the leader of the pack and he has a healthy disrespect for the Australians. A Clive Churchill man-of-the-match winner in a Grand Final in the NRL says it all. He’s a player the Aussies have to fear. And he’s the kind of character who will inspire a big performance from all around him.”
- The back three. “Full-back Gareth Widdop and wingers Ryan Hall and Jermaine McGillvary have been outstanding and collectively are better than their counterparts on the other side of the fence. Wayne Bennett’s decision to move Widdop to full-back after the injury to Jonny Lomax was a stroke of genius. It has created the link with McGillvary, the winger of the tournament. And Hall has also got the pedigree to produce some big moments.”
- No fear-factor. “This Australian line-up is not as fearful as ones I’ve seen in the past. I’ll give you two names who’ve not been available – Greg Inglis and Johnathan Thurston. They’ve still got brilliant individuals. Billy Slater will be voted the best full-back they’ve ever had when he retires, Cameron Smith is definitely the best number nine they’ve ever had and Cooper Cronk is up there. So the spine of their team are going to have to be rocked and knocked around a bit. But apart from those three, the supporting cast is not as good has it has been, especially in the pack.”
- England fans can lift the team. “They have been superb from when they started arriving in such numbers in Perth and have travelled with the team since. They’ve put in a phenomenal effort on matchdays with their support. I think they’ve enjoyed the trip and I think they can help inspire a gift for the game of rugby league.”
- It feels like it’s our time. “It’s been a heck of a long time since we beat them in a final. But this group is energised and excited. Nobody is expecting us to win it, but they can do it and I believe they will do it.”
England: G Widdop (St George Illawarra); J McGillvary (Huddersfield), K Watkins (Leeds), J Bateman (Wigan), R Hall (Leeds); K Brown (Warrington), L Gale (Castleford); C Hill (Warrington), J Roby (St Helens), J Graham (Canterbury Bulldogs), S Burgess (South Sydney), E Whitehead (Canberra), S O’Loughlin (Wigan, capt).
Interchanges: A Walmsley (St Helens), B Currie (Warrington), T Burgess (South Sydney), C Heighington (Cronulla).
Australia: B Slater, D Gagai, W Chambers, J Dugan, V Holmes, M Morgan, C Cronk, Woods, C Smith, D Klemmer, B Cordner, M Gillett, J McGuire, W Graham, J McLean, R Campbell-Gillard, T Frizell, F Kaufusi, T Trbojevic, J Mansour, J Maloney.