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Haka and family trump praise and contracts for Brown

Dylan Brown had Andrew Johns and Brad Fittler in raptures, and Parramatta powerbrokers willing to add another zero to a contract extension already in the mail.

But the playmaking prodigy was talking nothing but rugby league's common man after an eye-catching Eels debut, Brown justifying the pre-season hype around him in Parramatta's 20-12 win over Penrith.

The 18-year-old Kiwi five-eighth had around 30 close family in attendance for his first NRL outing, but plenty more friends and junior teammates on hand at Panthers Stadium.

An impromptu haka from "my boys" in the stands greeted Brown after a sterling 80 minutes, while he and his Eels teammates have been doing the rounds in fan get-togethers over the off-season.

It's nothing new in clubland. But it's not nothing either when you're a teenage half at a club that added last year's wooden spoon to the biggest unwanted cutlery collection in the NRL.

"We're doing a lot of things with the fans, we went out to lunch last week with a few fans," Brown said.

"It was me and [Brad] Takairangi, it was a two-on-two thing – lunch at the Leagues Club. We were just talking to the fans so they know what we're like off the field rather than us just being celebrities to them.

"It actually felt quite good, I'm sure it would've been good for the fans as well when they see us off the field, that helps."

Last year Brown was "just focusing on 20s and thinking about maybe a few more games in [Canterbury] Cup."

Match Highlights: Panthers v Eels

Corey Norman's off-season departure to St. George Illawarra now has all eyes on him.

Even more honed in when the Warriors made overtures to lure him back across the ditch, with Parramatta filthy at the approach and moving to extend Brown for another three to four years beyond his current 2020 commitment.

Eighth Immortal Johns and NSW Origin coach Fittler liked what they saw and then some on Channel 9's commentary, from the kid in Brett Kenny's old Blue & Gold No.6 jersey.

"Everything Dylan Brown has done today has been class," Johns gushed.

"Stand and applaud him."

Freddie's thoughts: "You can see the skill level. He doesn't think about it, he's just out there playing."

For Brad Arthur, Brown's composure has been plain to see all summer. And plain as day not when he squared up Penrith's defence in the lead-up to Michael Jennings' 78th minute match-winner.

Jennings seals the win with a double

But in the defensive slog that preceded it – when Jennings' sin-binning led to Brown being shuffled to centre to defend alongside Eels newcomer Shaun Lane and fellow rookie Maika Sivo.

"He's trained like that all pre-season and a good indicator that he was ready was the excitement in his teammates to have him on the field," Arthur said.

"He’s done a good job, especially in that 10-minute period when we were down Michael Jennings.

"It was a fair effort that 10-minute period and he showed good calmness and composure which we talked about with him all pre-season."

Brown's excitement understandably kicked into unwanted territory in the lead-up to kick-off.

But once again with nerves making their presence felt, the teenage half turned down the noise with a common touch.

"When I stepped into the sheds my nerves went up another level," he said.

"At home I was fine and as soon as I went into the sheds things just changed a lot.

"When I ran out onto the field I just looked over to my family and I just knew I was there to do one job.

"It just felt good to be out there with the boys. I was already comfortable coming into round one but now that's out of the way, I'm keen for another tilt."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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