Brown's back a blip in rookie's NRL dream

Parramatta's Dylan Brown says his back injury earlier this year seems like a blip in his NRL season.
Parramatta's Dylan Brown says his back injury earlier this year seems like a blip in his NRL season.

Right now, Dylan Brown's 13-week absence to manage a back injury seems like a mere blip in his dream NRL rookie year.

Back then though, it felt like an eternity for the 19-year-old Parramatta five-eighth that would never pass.

A teenage star who'd made good on his potential as one of the games rising talents, only to be sidelined after just three games.

"It was crazy, I thought when will I be back?" Brown admitted.

"Because it started with six weeks. I was like 'sweet, no worries;. Then it went to eight, 10 and then 13 weeks in total.

"And I was like, I'm not going to play again (this year).

"It was all in the media 'Dylan Brown's not going to play again'. I knew I was going to.

"But just hearing it was getting in my head. Thinking what if I don't?"

Then there was the feedback in the street.

Perhaps when Brown realised he'd made it in the NRL, in the not so friendly way.

Stopped, and messaged online routinely, by unhappy fans who claimed he was wasting them money in fantasy football.

"People were just taking it (the injury news) so far out of context," Brown said.

"And as much as people say it doesn't affect you, it definitely creeps in. You wonder if you'll be back.

"That's why you've got to stay off social media, which is hard to do."

Brown eventually proved his fitness, running 8km in training only to have to have to wait to be selected again.

"The fact I had played NRL was hard," he said.

"Because it was like 'I want to get back'. But the injury, I knew it was bad. Especially your back.

"My grandad has back problems and it's the worst.

"I had to be extremely confident that no matter what it would be fine."

Brown's waiting, pilates and recovery has paid off.

A crucial player in one of the youngest spines in NRL history, he is the youngest half to play finals football since Nathan Cleary in 2016,

His combination with Mitchell Moses is also flying headed into Saturday's semi-final against Melbourne, with the No.7 thriving on the responsibility of leading a young half.

"I didn't know what to expect (at the start of the year)," Brown admitted.

"Brad (Arthur) has helped Mitch a lot as well with changing from being that young player to the mature player.

"It was hard (combination-wise) when I had the 13 weeks with my back. But we've been back 10 weeks now and I think it's working well."

Australian Associated Press