Manly's Brown a victim of his own versatility
Manly utility Lewis Brown admits 2017 has been a frustrating season in many ways but despite playing very limited minutes off the Sea Eagles bench insists he wouldn't play a team sport if he wasn't prepared to do whatever was best for the team.
Until Curtis Sironen was injured in Round 16, Brown averaged just over 20 minutes of game time in 2017 covering for injuries or slotting into dummy-half; promoted to an 80-minute role a week later he promptly suffered a torn meniscus in his knee that kept him out for three weeks.
He returned with an 80-minute spell in Round 21's horror loss to Melbourne but like his team overall, bounced back to form last week where Brown scored an important and determined try in a morale-boosting win over the Roosters.
"I've just come back from injury recently; it's been a tough year for myself," Brown said ahead of his side's important Round 23 meeting with Wests Tigers.
"I haven't been able to concentrate on one position, I've played in numerous ones but I just started to simplify it down and go out there and play my own brand of footy and it helps when you've got a good forward pack with the way they played on the weekend."
While admitting it has been "tough" not getting more of an opportunity, Brown was highly pragmatic about the situation.
"It's a team sport and I play a team sport because I want to be part of a team. At the end of the day it's not about me, it's about the team," Brown said.
"I'll do whatever I have to do to make sure I'm doing the right things for the boys; 17 players take the field and you've only got to do your job.
"Some weeks if it's only playing 20 minutes, well that's what I've got to do. On the weekend I think I played four positions ('centre, back row, I played hooker and I was jumping on the wing there for a bit too,' he explained) and if that's what I have to do I'm willing to do that for this team."
Being a utility has not been without its benefits, he added.
"Sometimes it's tough but if I wasn't a utility I probably wouldn't have made Test teams and other teams so at the end of the day I'm happy wearing that No.14 jumper and slotting in wherever I can," he said.
"The hardest thing about being a utility is during the week at training you can't really concentrate on one position so you end up having to slot in and out of different roles but at the end of the day that's where my career's gone. I am where I am today because of my versatility."
After an off-season interrupted by injury and some rough times including the tragic loss of his father, Brown said he has got back to enjoying his footy again.
"Last year was pretty tough for me, I didn't get much of an off-season and I had a bit of a tough off-season with off-field drama with my father but I've simplified things down this year," he said.
"I've been probably a bit of a victim of my own versatility but I had a good break when I had my knee injury and set some goals for myself for the back end of the season and now I'm just trying to tick boxes.
"Again it's not about me, it's about the team and if I'm playing 80 minutes, 20 minutes, 10 minutes I'm just happy to be out there with the boys."