Panthers not scared by expectations
Despite coming off a top four finish with the Penrith Panthers and a victorious Four Nations campaign with New Zealand, utility Lewis Brown insists he is keeping himself grounded heading into the new season.
After one of the biggest years of his career, a realistic Brown said the brilliant depth at the Panthers and the inevitable expectations placed on them means he and his teammates will need to remain composed moving forward.
Brown is keen to utilise his experience to help out his younger teammates.
"We have a big squad here and a lot of quality players especially in the position that I play, so you know you have to play your best footy each week. For me, I just have to keep myself grounded," Brown told NRL.com.
"In our squad we have great depth, and Penrith has always had great depth, but if I can bring anything to the team then hopefully I can bring more leadership and hit the ground running.
"The lucky thing is we have some very levelheaded kids here at Penrith with smart heads on their shoulders. Two kids in [Tyrone] Peachey and [Bryce] Cartwright have big futures and they are pretty good at making decisions themselves. So I'm more a teammate rather than a mentor to them."
Having such promising players surrounding him, Brown said he'll also have to continue playing well if he is to hold his spot in the side.
With the Panthers squad brimming with back-rowers, Brown said such competition will further breed success at the club.
"On top of Tyrone and Bryce, there's Sika [Manu] who is a really, really good player. We have young Tupou [Sopoaga] from the Sharks too, so we have a lot of depth there and some bright young players," Brown said.
"Having this competition also adds value to our side because it is so competitive and it raises the bar at training."
Pointing out that coach Ivan Cleary is ruthless when it comes to team selection, Brown's utility value works in his favour with the veteran adept in playing in the centres, back row and hooker.
The Kiwi international knows it won't mean anything if he doesn't keep up to Cleary's standards.
"You have to do what's right for the team and last year I played that No. 14 role coming off the bench and nowadays most people would say coming off the bench is just as important as starting and hopefully I can fill that role again this year," Brown said.
"If you're not performing though, you won't be in the team. That's one thing that Ivan has always been with his coaching. He doesn't care who you are or what you have done if you're not performing then he'll drop you and that's the way I like it."