Kevin Brown recalls moment World was swiped from Kallum Watkins before reunion

KEVIN Brown is ready for a reunion with the ‘best’ – after seeing the World swiped from under his feet.

Last time the half-back and Kallum Watkins played on the same side was England's agonising World Cup final defeat to Australia in 2017.

Had the centre broke clear, a try looked certain and glory possible but Josh Dugan's fingertip had enough effect and brought him crashing down.

Now three years – and Watkins’ serious knee injury – later they will line up again for Salford with memories still fresh in Brown's mind and him convinced his pal has lost none of his quality.

He said of that fateful moment: “I didn’t think there was any chance of him being caught.

“It was Josh Dugan who pulled Kallum down and he was probably the best athlete in that Australia team. That was the moment we knew it wasn’t going to be that day.

“I honestly think if that hadn’t happened, England would’ve won the game.

“He’s the best centre England has produced since the likes of Martin Gleeson and Paul Newlove and in that world Cup we built up a really good combination, we were side by side.

“And even to break against Australia in a World Cup final is only something a special sort of player can do – Kallum did that.

“I’m really excited about playing with him again. I know how good he was when we played together for England and he’s not afraid to do the hard graft too.

“I’ve played with quite a few players who had bad injuries and Kallum is getting somewhere near back to his best again.

“If he replicates what he’s done in training, he’s going to be a handful for any opponent. I hope that doesn’t put pressure on him!”

Since the World Cup, Watkins has left Leeds for NRL side Gold Coast Titans. He returned to Super League with Toronto, only for them to withdraw before he even trained with them.

Now he has come home to the club where he was a ball boy and a junior season ticket holder.

After six months without a game and training on his own, effectively running up and down a local park, he could be forgiven for being slightly behind as he faces Catalans, and Israel Folau, on his debut, with being one game from Wembley the prize.

For 35-year-old Brown, there is none of it, as he added: “To be honest, I’m surprised at how good he’s looking.

“We’re in the same weights group and he’s lifting more than me. If he’d been out of shape, he’d be lifting more than me though!

“We have a competition going – Dan Sarginson and I particularly – and Kallum coming in has literally raised the bar higher.

“He looks agile and sharp and is in physically good shape – that just shows how much he worked on his own.”

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