The Cumberland Throw

Round 2 Spotlight – Nathan Brown (Shut It Down!)

Ladies and gentlemen, the Parramatta Eels are proud to present a true football player – Nathan Brown.

In selecting the player in focus for this week, I’ve skipped those flashy backs and zeroed in on Brown for his vital role as a middle forward.

Forget any suggestion about a recruitment that simply targeted a tough nut to take the hit ups. The homework was done on this bloke, and the proof has been in the pudding in just a few appearances wearing the blue and gold.

Here at TCT, we’ve been on the “Shut It Down” Nathan Brown express from the moment he began showcasing his wares during the pre-season. With a football department that’s all about harnessing and developing skills, the Eels were always going to be the perfect fit for the versatile ex-Rabbitoh.

In a match where the Parramatta backline attracted plenty of attention, the Eels forwards laid the platform against their Dragons opponents in a performance which built on their previous efforts against the Sea Eagles. Although starting from the bench, Nathan Brown played no small role and earns my gong at the Gong for most valuable forward.

His contributions thus far should put a smile on the face of even the most jaded Eels fan.


The early returns in this department shed light on the under-utilisation of Brown’s talents at Souths. In similar minutes, a 46 minute average in 2016 against 49 minutes so far this year, the numbers point to a greater all round contribution from the new recruit. Understandably, this statistic could be skewed by a 2017 reference point of two victories. Nonetheless, the comparison is worth examining.

  • Runs

Across various statistical sources, Brown has averaged around 16 runs per game in 2017 for a gain of approximately 145 metres. This is a massive increase on his 2016 figures of 10.2 runs for 94.7 metres. Many pundits were impressed with Brown’s powerful charges into the ruck last year, so to lift his numbers by over 50%, albeit in two victories, is a great result even at this early stage. Those re-start returns against the Dragons were proof positive that Matagi won’t be playing a sole hand in the intimidation stakes.

  • Offloads

The indications are that Brown’s offloads will also be on the increase. Last season he averaged 1.7 offloads per match. This was probably not a noted feature of Brown’s game, given that most of the headlines focussed on his aggressive approach. The 2017 figures of 2.5 per game point to a middle forward given a licence to promote second phase football.


The averages here are definitely impacted by the relative fortunes of his respective teams. In a less than stellar year, the Rabbitohs were faced with a heavy defensive workload. It comes as no surprise that Brown averaged 27 tackles across 21 appearances in 2016, compared to 19 per match this year. What is evident is that this fella doesn’t shy away from the big collisions. For a pack that’s set the goal of attacking through defence, his aggressive attitude is a major plus.

Nathan Brown shutting it down with his defence at the Nines.


There was a bit of light hearted banter at training and at the Auckland Nines about Brown channeling Mark Riddell. Perhaps that ribbing wasn’t so much about any physical similarity but rather the role he would play in 2017. At different stages throughout the pre-season, Brown would drop into dummy half for opposed sessions. For TCT, this signalled the coach’s intention to go with four forwards on the bench. It was also a strong indicator that the middle forward had a passing and game management skill set that had not been identified or utilised by previous coaches.

It will therefore come as no surprise that Brown will pop up as a link man. A bit of James Graham, and a touch of Paul Gallen. Expect to see those offloads for second phase play along with direct ball to outside supports. The beauty will lie in the unexpected.

Far from a one dimensional player with ball in hand.

That Skill Set

Let’s leave the offloads to one side. Even forget the fearless charges. Let me paint the picture of something Iย witnessed at training that was a window to Nathan Brown, the footballer.

As much as kids enjoy playing games before training, so too do the players. One such game often sees a group of players kicking footies to different points around the field, with some sort of target or challenge at each point. At one session, Brown joined the group and asked where they were at. “Over and back under” was the response. The challenge was to kick the ball over the cross bar and to have it bounce back under the posts after landing. On what was his first kick of the day, Brown executed it perfectly, much to the howls of his team mates.

This was a bit of fun, but for mine it became a precursor to a moment at the Auckland Nines. Emboldened by a format made for improvisation, Brown executed a kick and chase from dummy half that resulted in a try.

Will our versatile middle forward stow away similar exploits in his kit bag for the premiership proper? As both Bevan French and Michael Jennings have already demonstrated this season, expect the unexpected!

Let me leave you with this thought. In referencing early season statistics, I cautioned that those figures could be skewed by the results of those matches. However, they would also be limited by the new combinations within the Eels and Brown’s lack of familiarity with new team mates. This bloke has plenty to offer the Eels in 2017 and beyond. The best is yet to come.

Eels forever!


Images courtesy of Parramatta Eels, NRL and Auckland Nines






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29 thoughts on “Round 2 Spotlight – Nathan Brown (Shut It Down!)

  1. parrathruandthru

    In an impressive team performance against the Saints, Brownie was the guy I was most impressed with.
    He went away from the before the line stuff that he tried against Penrith and Manly and ran hard, took on the line and popped a couple of offloads to create 2nd phase with 3 defenders hanging off him. On top of that there will be a couple of Saints forwards who wont be running in Brownies direction in a hurry next time the face him, a couple of his first up hits were telling. Also impressed that he chased Widdop and almost got him. Been professional in his game time too so far, he hasn’t given away any silly penalties as might have been expected given his past games

  2. Mitchy

    Yes i think he has fitted into the scheme of things well so far; and it has not taken him long.
    He has the mongrel, skill and hard edge we need. Sixties or anyone, do we know what weight he is at now, compared to 2016?

    1. sixties Post author

      The curious thing about Brown’s size is that at training, he looks a very similar build to Watmough, but out on the field on match day he looks bigger.

  3. Parra Pete, Hay

    You have really captured this bloke and what he brings to the team.
    I must admit I was not a fan of him when he was at the Rabbits….thought he was an absolute dick head.
    However, BA and coaching staff have got into his head the Old Jack Gibson style “Don’t show the crowd how “tough’ you are”…”Let your opponents “feel” the toughness by your actions”.
    I think Jack would have LOVED Brownie in his teams. He seems like a “Jack Gibson” type to me.
    Love reading your articles Sixties..and the rest of the team at TCT.
    I wait in anticipation every week. Not only are they well written….they are written by people who know the game and are passionate about it and the Club…..

    1. sixties Post author

      Hi Pete,
      I’ve tried to get in touch with you by phone recently to discuss an idea, but it wouldn’t connect. Can you text me?

  4. Rowdy

    Excellent analysis Sixties on “The Brown Hound” or “Shut it down Brown” as you’ve accurately labelled his defensive attribute. Personally, I favour the Brown Hound as I’ve noticed his tenacity and enthusiasm in everything he does (like a hound on the scent) or as my dear old dad would say “head down, arse up” and don’t stop son!

    I reckon Brownie would be loving the freedom that BA gives all our attacking players and he appears to be getting good coaching after each performance from your comment on the difference between the 1st and 2nd round with his before the line and at the line passing. Isn’t it wonderful to see our squad actually getting COACHED again, I don’t think we’ve had that for a while at Parra. As a side note; It was very interesting to see Jenko pass the ball to Semi so often on Sunday, I reckon that was a bit of coaching too, it could bring him back into the Origin squad if it continues!?

    1. Pou

      Jennings never left the Origin squad! He played all three games last year, and scored the last minute winner in game three.

      1. Rowdy

        Thanks Pou, I left out the word “contention”regarding this years Origin squad. On a national rep basis he wasn’t considered ahead of any Qld centre or a couple of NSW teammates towards the end of last season.

        The was an old saying that if you try so hard to get on the score sheet once yourself and allow your wingers to catch a cold instead of three meat pies you’ve done the team a disservice. Just my opinion Pou, but I believe that’s where Jennings was heading. He’s certainly turned that around, hope he keeps it up.

        But thanks for correcting me mate, I’ve got three girls in the office that think that is their job too.

    2. sixties Post author

      Rowdy, I put that between the legs pass down to their improvised ball carrying that they do at training. They juggle, put the ball around the body and legs etc, all on the run.

  5. Joe Briffa

    Sixties all I can add is ditto to what you wrote and the above. That try that Bev scored was a direct result of that great run that Brownie did bringing the ball back boys that was top shelf. Hope to see you at Ringrose on S.unday mate

  6. Manginina

    Enjoyed your report as always Sixties. I thought I was probably getting ahead of myself when I was leaving the ground on Sunday when I thought “gee reminds me a bit of the glory 1980’s, a committed forward pack that works so well and backs that are individually brilliant but combine as a team.” Early days I know, but exciting times ahead. (I have been to all Parra’s GFs, wins n losses!!)

    1. sixties Post author

      The coaching is superb mate. The mixture of team and individual coaching and the methods used is really paying dividends. I’ve also been to every grand final – and experienced that contrast of emotions. Wasn’t it great to travel to the Gong for that match!

    2. Parramatta Tragic

      I wrote the exact same comments on Sunday night Manginina, pressed the “post comment” button and it promptly disappeared into the ether. Possibly a Microsoft Edge problem? This team is very much like our teams of the mid to late 70’s and 80’s. Mau especially reminded me of Ray Higgs and Brown is very quickly heading in that same direction. For those that missed it the first time around, we are recreating an era of truly tough men a la Higgs, Hilditch, O’Reilly and Price. Loving every minute of it. We will win the comp sure and certain

      1. sixties Post author

        We have assembled a squad that’s put us in the mix. Only one winner out of 16 – it’s not easy.. But isn’t it great to have a Parra team on the rise and so competitive!

  7. Pou

    Brown played the most minutes of our middle forwards this week as well. Shows starting off the bench doesn’t mean you’re less important than the blokes in the run on side.

  8. John Eel

    Brown is just another example of the coaching and recruiting ideology of BA. He knows how he wants the team to play and recruits people who he believes can do the job for him. Even with Gutho I believe that he saw a bit of Keiron Foran in him with the good hard defence and the way he passes at the line

    I believe that this is building into something good

    1. sixties Post author

      BA spoke to Forty and I just before the recruitment of Gutho was announced. He was in a great mood about a particular signing, though he didn’t reveal the name. 12 months later, he reinforced to us that Gutho was never recruited as a winger.

      1. Rowdy

        It’s interesting that you say that sixties. I recall going to Origin early about 5 years ago to watch a couple of young Parra boys in the U/17’s or U/18’s who looked to have potential although I can’t even remember who they were now. Anyway all I can remember is this tall skinny kid from Manly playing fullback who just carved up the Queenslanders! I’m pretty sure it was Gutho!

        Pou, please correct me if I was mixing him up with Tom “Theboysabitch”? I don’t recall Parra having too many young redhot outside backs and backrowers when Tom was playing junior reps.

  9. Trouser Eel

    All is spot on with what you say, though I’m (somewhat) pleased and disappointed to say that Brownie hasn’t shown the mongrel we saw when he was at the bunnies. Few penalties, no high shots. I’m not sure we need it but I do recall thinking Beau neededโ€‹ some help with this aspect of the game (is he couldn’t be the only one roughing the opposition up to take them) and rejoicing when they recruited him.

        1. sixties Post author

          I love Beau’s mongrel approach, but I reckon if you look at the way we are getting numbers into the tackles at the moment, the opposition are feeling every tackle. If we think back to how often we used to get penalised when the refs just regarded us as ill-disciplined, there’s something to be said for the way we’re going about our business.

  10. Matt

    Great article mate. I took the old man to the game pv Souths last yr when browny tore us to shreds at parra stadium n I turned around n said to him ” fark , this is the type of mad merkin we need in our team”
    Great addition to the club..

  11. Matt sweeney

    HI boys , enjoying all the astute punditry and civility . I’m OS and have never seen brown play. I love what sixties and you all have said about him. I’m just trying to reconcile his style of play in light of his relative small stature. How does he generate his force , is it because he runs particularly fast into his hit ups with energy like fui fui did ?

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