Sharks' stocks rise with the 'Nu' boy
From Christchurch to Cronulla, or more aptly, from the frying pan into the fire.
Fa'amanu Brown, or 'Nu' for the mercy of the commentators, has spent the majority of his 19 years marching over hot coals, so it comes as no surprise he's jumped straight into the hot seat vacated by former Sharks five-eighth Todd Carney.
Brown, a self-styled 'statehouse kid,' carries his father's first name and was raised by Fa'amanu senior and Mum Teresa in Christchurch's government housing until 2011, when at just 16 he took a punt and bid farewell to his eight siblings to chase a shot at the NRL big time with the Sharks.
"We had a rough upbringing, my mum she pretty much had to go down to the Salvation Army just to get food for us, just to put food on the table for nine kids," Brown tells NRL.com after Cronulla's second miracle comeback in as many weeks against the Roosters.
"It's been a tough run for my parents. If you've seen 'Once Were Warriors' – it was just like that, exactly the same.
"It's actually been a blessing for me. It's pushed me to put everything I have into making the most of it.
"My mum and dad have done a lot for us and it's been tough with nothing, but for me now I've just got to give back for my parents and make the most of this opportunity."
What Brown calls an opportunity, others might call leading a lamb to the slaughter. After just four games in the top grade and thrust into the playmaking role of a team that had lost its go-to man, its skipper and its coach, Brown engineered two crucial tries for winger Jacob Gagan as the Sharks reeled the premiers in from a 24-0 lead to triumph in the final few minutes 30-28.
It was the type of display that had Brown earmarked to play in April's Pacific international for Samoa against Fiji despite not having played first grade. And for the type of emotion so rarely seen in the hard and fast world of rugby league, whack 'Fa'amanu Brown on Reallife' into Youtube to see the reaction of his parents when told their youngest son would be representing the island nation they had left in 1976 for greener pastures in New Zealand.
"Mum kind of broke down a bit and Dad was real quiet, it meant a hell of a lot to them," says Brown.
"The whole family was really proud because Dad played at five-eighth for Samoa, I'm named after him and oh man, he could kick off both legs back in the day.
"He's like my second coach. I'll jump on the phone to him and he'll be in my ear, giving me a few tips and telling me I could've done this or this better. But that's what Dads are for.
"They're back in Christchurch, so it's been hard living away from home but they call every night and I talk to them all the time, keep it nice and close. It makes it easier and those calls remind me of what I'm here to do."
The fact Brown was ruled out of the clash with a knee injury leaves him with business he hopes to take come October when Samoa take part in the Four Nations for the first time in its history, but Brown insists his first priority is locking down the Sharks No.6 jumper and honing his combination with veteran halfback Jeff Robson.
"It's on me to put my head down and make sure I keep my spot with good footy, and working with Robbo's a big part of that.
"Robbo's definitely our key man, so I leave the organising to him and he lets me play my own game.
"My running game is definitely my main go and Robbo lets me do that, so it's great to be able just to play my natural game and not have to worry about having too much on my plate."