ALEX BROWN is counting down to play in the biggest game of his career.
The 22-year-old Giants winger will line up for Batley Bulldogs in their Northern Rail Cup final clash against Widnes Vikings at Blackpool on Sunday.
It is the first time since 1952, and a Yorkshire Cup final against Huddersfield, that Batley have appeared in a senior rugby league final.
That makes Sunday’s showdown even more important for the Gallant Youths – something that hasn’t been lost on Brown, who is a member of the Giants’ Super League squad but is spending the year on loan at the Co-operative Championship club.
“This is a very big day, not only for the club but for me,” said Brown.
“Making my Super League debut for the Giants at St Helens last season was massive, but this is arguably even bigger.
“It’s not every day a major rugby league final is played, and to know I’ll be part of it makes it special.
“And I really can’t wait for the final to come along.
“I expect it’s going be nerve-wracking, but I’m sure the experience of playing at Saints last season will stand me in good stead.
“I remember how nervous I felt that day. As well as it being my debut, the match was on Sky TV and we were fielding a weakened side against a full-strength Saints.
“But I felt I handled the nerves pretty well that night, so I’m hoping I’ll be okay on Sunday.
“These are the reasons you want to play the game, and I intend to enjoy it as much as I can.”
Batley earned the right to meet the Vikings after their stunning 25-4 semi-final triumph at Leigh, when Brown was again in top form.
Bulldogs coach Karl Harrison will be keeping faith with the same squad that has served him so well throughout the Northern Rail campaign.
That means there will be no place for another Giants’ on-loan man Josh Griffin, who will, however, travel across to the coast as part of the squad.
And Brown knows that will make it tough for his teammate.
“Josh has been playing really well in the League for us, and I know how gutted he is to be missing out this weekend,” added Brown.
“But he’s known all along that Karl would be keeping faith with the squad that has been involved in the Cup from day one, and wouldn’t be featuring.
“Having said that, you can guarantee Josh will be there to make sure he doesn’t miss out on getting hold of some of the Northern Rail Cup final kit!
“He’s certainly going to be travelling over with the rest of the squad to Blackpool, and will be celebrating with the rest of us when we lift the trophy – which I’m sure we will.
“We’re going into the game with a lot of confidence, especially after our great 34-16 League win over Barrow last Sunday.
“That shows what great shape we’re in, and we can’t wait to get cracking!”