Bulldogs want to be the entertainers once again
Bulldogs utility Fa'amanu Brown says his side have broken the shackles and with the blessing of coach Dean Pay they will continue a more ad-lib style of football for the rest of 2018.
The disappointment of a 4-13 record so far for the Telstra Premiership season is offset by what the Dogs have been dishing up recently.
Over the past three rounds [16-18] they have scored 11 tries. In the three previous to that [rounds 12-15] – with the exemption of the round 13 bye – they scored six in total.
Of course Brown has only been in the NRL side five times this year, but most importantly he's been the No.14 in the past three games – the win over the Knights, before the close loss to the Raiders and then a blow-out defeat against Souths.
Brown isn't suggesting he is turning the Bulldogs fortunes around. He says the root causes of the more entertaining and attacking Bulldogs play is down to Pay, plus new halves Lachlan Lewis and Jeremy Marshall-King.
"Dean has changed the game plan a little," Brown told NRL.com. "In general terms, we're truly playing what's in front of us more often now.
"The first few months we were working more to a certain plan. But now we're working on things like support play, being open to trying something new if it pops up in front of us.
"When we've been playing like that we're looking far more dangerous. Young guys like Lachie Lewis and Jeremy are new to the NRL. They are hungry, they're determined.
"We need to release them - so to speak - so they play more freely."
Lewis, 21, signed a new two-year deal with Bulldogs on the eve of facing the Parramatta Eels at ANZ Stadium on Thursday night.
Brown, 23, who was recruited from the Sharks and isn't off contract until 2019, would also like the chance to stick around.
He has been coming off the bench to relieve hooker Michael Lichaa. Brown played more than half of his 24 first grade games with the Sharks at five-eighth – the rest at No.9.
Only playing five NRL games this year has been a little frustrating.
"It hasn't been the start of the year I'd wanted. It's been a bit of a learning curve for me," he said.
"Dean has got me coming off the bench to bring some energy around a lot of the fatigued legs out there.
"I try to help the halves and [Will] Hopoate at the back there to keep the team rolling forward.
"A new club brings a different way to fit in with your new teammates, different combinations.
"But I feel the last few weeks we're playing some of our best footy of the year. I've been a part of that and it's helped my confidence."
Brown has been through adversity before. He missed the entire 2015 season at Cronulla after tearing his ACL at the Auckland Nines.
"I'm just glad to be still playing in the NRL so I'll go anywhere. But eventually, I want to be able to secure a spot in the halves," Brown said.
"For me right now my job is to be the utility and add freshness to the team.
"The main thing is we want to play some good footy and take the stress off ourselves and the club. It's been a tough year.
"The leaders in our team like Josh Jackson, Adam Elliott and Aiden Tolman have held us all together well. We need to show the fans what the rest of us can do."