Brown keen to fill playmaking void

Brown keen to fill playmaking void

Cronulla Sharks coach Shane Flanagan is yet to decide who will take the vacant No.6 jersey in James Maloney's absence for Friday night's clash with the Warriors in Auckland.

‌Sharks pair Jack Bird and Nu Brown both took turns in the pivot role at training on Monday with the side scheduled to fly out to New Zealand on Wednesday.

The return of James Segeyaro in recent weeks has allowed for the premiers to recover after losing Jayden Brailey to a broken jaw, while mid-season recruit Adam Clydsdale is also an option coming off the bench should Brown be given the five-eighth role.

That will likely be the case after Brown was Maloney's replacement during the State of Origin period, in which the Sharks won both their games over the Bulldogs and Wests Tigers despite missing their key personnel.

"It's a big opportunity for me if I do get picked there but 'Flanno' is still yet to make up his mind," Brown told NRL.com ahead of the clash. 

"Both Chad and I worked well together when Jimmy (Maloney) was out but we'll just have to see what Flanno has planned because each week the game plan is different."

Brown has been rotating with Segeyaro the past fortnight and got over the line against the Rabbitohs, burrowing for his first four-pointer since 2014. 

It is no secret he prefers the six jumper though and feels more comfortable at the scrum base than in the middle of it.

"That's probably the dangerous part of my game, just running the ball and let Chad organise," he said.

"Chad does a lot of the talking while Jimmy runs the ball and he's learnt he needs to so step up when he is out on Origin duty or injured so I'll be following him too and try to guide the team."

Despite losing game breaker Shaun Johnson for the remainder of the season, the Warriors put up a fight against the Cowboys with a strong showing in Townsville.

Brown knows Johnson's replacement Mason Lino will relish the opportunity to play at home in front of a vocal Mt Smart Stadium crowd.

The pair played rugby league together at a young age before becoming teammates in the Samoan side in 2016.

Cronulla have won seven of the last nine clashes against the Warriors but the last three games at Mt Smart Stadium have only been decided by four points on each occasion.

"I watched their game on the week and they're quite dangerous up front and my little friend Mason is back in the team that is great to see," Brown said.

"He's just like Chad in that he's a great director and then [Kieran] Foran runs the ball so they're a dangerous combination even with Shaun Johnson missing."

In a twist, Brown could go toe-to-toe with the man who could take his position next season at the Bulldogs with both he and Foran moving to Belmore at the end of the season.

Canterbury announced the signing of Brown a week after confirming the Foran deal. 

"I haven't really thought about it that way to be honest, for me it's probably made my footy a lot more enjoyable because I know I'm leaving next year so I soak up each day," Brown said. 

"I've just got to give all I've got for this team. Our motto is to go back-to-back and we've just got to try and stay in that top four."

With the introduction of the new finals format in 2012, no club has come from the bottom half of the eight position and won the competition.

Brown concedes it's virtually mission impossible.

"It's the most important thing to stay in that top four and our pure focus is just that because you've got the second chance safety net if you do fall in the first week," he said.

"The competition this year is definitely a lot tougher and closer with teams on the field I feel and there are no big gaps on the ladder.

"You can either drop down or rise up pretty quickly so we have to just keep winning."