The Cumberland Throw

The Spotlight – Dylan Brown

How easy would it be to board the Dylan Brown hype train? After the praise for his debut season, and the accolades for what he’s produced in 2020, some would suggest that the locomotive has already departed the station with no evidence of social distancing from its passengers.

In a recent article by Andrew Webster in the Sydney Morning Herald, Dylan Brown even addressed the hype himself.

It’s a crowded ride here

“I just feel like I’ve got so much more to learn,” Brown says. “There’s been plenty of hype around my name and me having to live up to that. It’s added pressure. Confidence is something that I have to work on. But I’m pretty chill.”


NRL hype was something that the young Kiwi had to learn the hard way when rumours of the Warriors chasing him with million dollar contracts first surfaced during the 2019 preseason. With his social media accounts going into meltdown, and the media jumping all over a typical Dylbags throw-away line, it was an interesting introduction to the big time for a teenager yet to play his first game in the top grade.

So, despite this post slotting firmly into the good news category, I’d argue against any hype train classification. And the reason is simple.

The Cumberland Throw doesn’t need to hype Dylan Brown. We’ve been watching and reporting on his performances since he first pulled on an Eels jersey in the 2016 Harold Matthews competition.

In fact, you can find Forty20’s footage of his first game here

Given our history, this post will retrace his journey with the club, almost to the day that Anthony Field first secured his signature for the Eels. Brown’s talent is now there for all to see, but his journey has sometimes been jumbled in media recounts.

Growing up playing union, Brown was a relative newcomer to rugby league when he was one of a number of Kiwis invited to Parramatta’s Junior Rep trials by Daniel Anderson. Field quickly recognised that this was a talent that would go far, and contracted him to the Eels. Accommodation in the “Parra House” for the next three years would help his relocation.

Success soon followed.

Dylan was yet to turn 16 when he featured in the victorious Eels 2016 Harold Matthews team. He was still 16 years old when he sang the team song on grand final day in the winning 2017 under 18s S G Ball team. Across those seasons, he never played in a losing team.

Dylan, Oggy, Kyle, Ethan, Jesse, with Anthony Field

Elevated to NYC as soon as he turned 17, another grand final appearance awaited. A dilemma suddenly emerged. Strong form in the Australian Schools Championships saw Brown rewarded with a Green and Gold jersey. A trip to play against New Zealand clashed with the NYC Grand Final. Brown chose to remain with his Eels team.

Unfortunately the Eels were beaten in the last seconds by the Sea Eagles in that Grand Final. Dyl certainly could hold his head up after his performance.

With Brown backing up for the 2018 NYC season, the team again featured in the Top 8. However, there were bigger plans for the young playmaker, and this saw him elevated to Wenty’s NSW Cup side for the final five games of the season. Incidentally, the struggling Magpies won three of those games, only going down to the top four placed Jets and Bulldogs.

The following key stat was revealed in Mitch Clarke’s Watchlist post later that year:

“In his 5 NSW Cup games this year, the young buck was asked to make 118 tackles (or 23.6 per game). For the sake of comparison, the combined total of the opposing halfbacks in those 5 games was 74 tackles (average 14.8)… Dylan only missed 8 tackles across the 5 games (or 1.6 a game); and for those playing along at home, the opposing 5 halfbacks in said games missed a combined total of 19 tackles (or 3.8 a game).”

Incidentally, that profile remains the most viewed post in the history of the Cumberland Throw.

In the opening minutes of Wenty’s final game of 2018, Brown suffered a nasty injury to a finger. It was fractured in multiple places, but the trainers thought it was dislocated. Those of us in the stands winced as much as the 18 year old should have as the trainers attempted to pop the broken finger into place.

That’s gotta hurt.

An x-Ray later confirmed the extent of the damage – see image – but that damage did not deter him from a typically strong defensive display. The injury ultimately prevented him from playing in the NYC finals and the Eels bowed out in the first week. Talking to him at training in the week before the final, he stated that he wanted to play with his finger strapped. Fortunately his next appointment was the NRL pre-season.

One of the most repeated Dylan Brown stories is about his first day of NRL pre-season training, when he required hospitalisation after pushing beyond the point of exhaustion in attempting to run down Clint Gutherson over 2 kilometres in a camp at Armidale.

That happened, but it was not Dylan’s first day of pre-season training. In fact, the Eels had returned to Old Saleyards in the previous week and Brown’s first up efforts had already made his intent clear in the Friday session, as reported here.

Nonetheless, that Armidale camp was the portent of a big preseason and a key change in the Eels halves.

Despite the presence of both Norman and Moses throughout the pre-Christmas period, it was becoming increasingly obvious that Brown had stamped himself as a must select for Round 1. His elite conditioning results and composure during opposed sessions belied his youth and inexperience.

His debut, back injury, long rehabilitation and successful return to the field is well documented. We spoke to him during his rehab and boredom seemed to be a major adversary. He was buoyed by the coaches and staff emphasising that his long term well-being was of paramount importance and that his rehabilitation could not be rushed.

Normz, Dyl & Reed at Pass It On

To the present, and by now many supporters who follow his social media, or watch his podcast appearances, realise that Dylan marches to the beat of a different drum. The quirky sense of humour displayed in his posts has kept fans entertained during lock down.

Supporters who get to lower grades would also know another side of Dylan. Last year, when not required for NRL duties, you’d see him at a range of venues supporting his mates in both Jersey Flegg and Canterbury Cup. He’d even pitch in to carry gear.


A day out with What Ability

And it’s not just family and friends that are important to Dylan. Giving back to the community has seen him helping out (along with Reed Mahoney) at Pass It On Clothing, as well as working with youngsters at What Ability. The latter is a carers organisation borne out of the work by Steve Dresler at Giant Steps School for students on the Autism spectrum. It links such students with professional and semi-professional athletes, and helps them to engage in positive lifestyle experiences.



To give one more insight into Dylan Brown, I wanted to share this anecdote. During 2019, a group of high school students were on an organised visit to Eels training. After training, a number of the players came over to say hello, sign some caps and take photos. After he spoke to the group, Dylan noticed that a couple of the kids were sitting away from the others. He went over to join them and stayed chatting with them for about 15 minutes, only leaving when he was required for other commitments.

I wasn’t privy to the conversation. He was probably just chilling with them. But that’s typical of him and it’s why I think that particular anecdote is so appropriate. The ultimate thing that Dylan can give is his time. And outside of football he finds that time to give to others.

Whether Dylan Brown scales great heights as an NRL player is yet to be seen. His talent and attitude certainly provides a solid foundation.

But when all is said and done, the club and the community are fortunate that this kid from across the ditch has made Parramatta his home.


Eels forever!



Thanks to Dylan Brown, What Ability & Pass It On Clothing social media accounts for their images.

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16 thoughts on “The Spotlight – Dylan Brown

  1. !0 Year Member

    The kid is just special. Footy was made for him. How tough is the youngster to be mixing it in the NRL already. When I watch him play, its like he glides around the field and is at least two steps ahead of everyone else. Which I think his team mates understand and just follow his lead. There is only so much coaching you do, players really do need to play what is in front of them and this kid is perfect. Last time I remember a half similar to Dylbaaags, is one A Johns.

    1. sixties Post author

      10 year, I decided not to break down his game in the post, but if I were to do so, I’d come back to one key word – composure. There’s talent in every NRL player – to varying degrees. But that ability to maintain composure – and you see it manifest in what he doesn’t do as much as what he does – stands him apart.

  2. BDon

    Brown and Moses are increasingly becoming a balanced pair. This must contribute to both their own and the team’scapabilities.Maybe Joey Johns has a big hand in this but their skills are starting to take great shape. Just stating a fact, we were struggling with Moses/Norman, the difference is not so much in skill, it’s more Brown’s personality,character and attitude. This partnership works,an eye opener on Thursday was how well responsibilities were shared. Good luck to the young bloke!

    1. sixties Post author

      I’ll give credit to Normz. I’m sure he knew that the writing was on the wall during the previous pre-season, but he gave everything at training, even after his departure was confirmed. Where there was confusion, there is now cohesion.

  3. Colin Hussey

    What a really great post sixties, these sort of posts and stories really lifts DB into a class person that deserves everything he strives for. His pairing with MM has improved so much its in many ways hard to think this young man is actually that young, and under normal circumstances he has no right to be as personifying as he is, and showing the class that comes out from someone so young and in his second year of NRL.
    With the work of Andrew Johns he can only get better, also the work with Reed is tops, the resigning of Reed cannot come soon enough as there is a big need to keep those three.
    Thanks again.

    1. sixties Post author

      Thanks Colin. I really wanted to try to share some examples of why this young bloke is a great fit for the club.
      The other thing that that I should have maybe linked to was our post about Giant Steps. You can see the community awareness that this school has instilled in our Parra boys that worked there – like Dylan and Reed. Also a huge shout out to Steve Dresler. This young bloke, a peer of Reed and Dylan, was headed for an NRL career. He was seriously one of the most talented young props I’ve seen. Unfortunately, major knee injury stopped his career. Even when he was trying to rehab, he dedicated his time to helping his team out at training, running water in games etc. He has extended his work at Giant Steps by creating What Ability. He’s a young bloke that makes things happen – he did it on the footy field and he’s doing it now for those on the Autism spectrum.

  4. Shelley

    He enjoys his football and seems to love the tough elements of the game, the tackling, the kick chase as much as the attack. His pace and instinct is so obvious and exciting to watch.
    He has a refreshing honesty and you can always tell the character of a person by the way others respond. I hope the fans, media and club allow him to keep it.

    For players like Fergo, Jennings, Gutho and Moses to not only trust but encourage Dylan, a teenager, to take chances, to play his natural game speaks volumes. He has to make the right choices but he seems to have the right people around him and will have every opportunity to succeed.

    1. sixties Post author

      The part of your reply that really resonates With me and my experiences with Dylan is the honesty. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with him a few times over the years and he just seems to be himself. The other thing I’ve noticed is that he’ll often ask questions of people he’s chatting with, which is obviously just a natural component of any conversation, but for these players who get bombarded with fans and media, they probably get very used to just answering questions rather than being part of a conversation. That involvement with Giant Steps and What Ability probably keeps any of the young players involved very grounded.

  5. Milo

    Nice article Sixties. DB seems like he had his head firmly on the ground and not above unlike some others….
    BTW that train picture is definitely on the way to the cricket ground…..

    1. sixties Post author

      Cheers mate. He’s a good bloke. You’re probably right about the cricket. Classic photo!

      1. Milo

        As we said the other day the test will be the next 5-6 wks and our defence being strong. DB has shown to be a good defender.

  6. Gazzamatta

    Shaun Lane is an absolute favourite of mine but this kid is catching him fast as my favorite player.
    Im astounded by his defence and if possible hes returned from The Covid 19 lockdown in even better physical condition. He now looks huge in the shoulders. Another element of his skill I noticed last game was his speed. On a couple of occasions he wasnt required in cover defence but Ive little doubt he was on target to run down the attacker if required. The kid is lightening. Have you noticed his results in any pre season sprints 60s?
    I love these reports mate. With no disrespect to any other player its my belief that D Brown is the future of our club. To coin a Joey phrase “what a player”.

    1. sixties

      Thanks Gazza. I’ve watched them do sprint training, but the work that I’ve seen doesn’t really have them lined up sprinting from scratch – they build to a marker then sprint. I suppose it makes sense as you don’t see players in a crouch position in a game. The main emphasis seems to be the running mechanics. But here’s an anecdote I could have easily shared in the post. During an opposed session in the 2019 preseason, Dylan broke the line from just short of halfway. Bevan French was in front of him. He ran around Bevan and outsprinted him to score. Now, I’m not saying he’s faster than Bevan, but he has the pace to stand up then get away from a fast fullback. He literally repeated that training display when he scored that try against the Dragons last year. When he came to Norman, I knew he’d take him on.

      1. Achilles' Eel

        But was Dylan as fast when taking on Bevan at training on that day as Anthony Field was in signing him up to play for the mighty Eels?
        As you’ve clearly shown Sixties, Dylan had ‘the goods’ from day one – maturity, training, humour (never underestimate the last point in the making of a footballer, or in the building of rapport with teammates). His rise through the grades has been seamless. Not even a bad back could slow him down.
        What I particularly like about this current Parramatta squad is the potential leadership in the group moving forward, of which Dylan is but one example. I feel the coaching staff should be commended for this.

        1. sixties

          Mate, we thank Fieldsy every chance we get. He also snatched Reed off Canterbury in the deal of the century!
          Reed is definitely one of those future leaders.

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