Parramatta Eels pocket rocket Nathan Brown has been rewarded for his breakout 2017 Telstra Premiership season with the longest and most lucrative contract of his career.
Brown, awarded the Ken Thornett Medal as the Eels’ best player last year, is set to sign a three-year extension with the club, keeping him in Blue & Gold until the end of 2021.
The 25-year-old had bounced his way through the Wests Tigers juniors ranks to the South Sydney Rabbitohs, who offered him a pay cut in 2016 which led to him departing for Parramatta.
After arriving on a deal worth around $160,000 Brown proved to be one of the bargain buys of the season, powering the Eels’ largely unheralded pack into their first finals appearance since 2009.
Averaging 152 running metres, 17 runs and 35 tackles a game ranked Brown’s work rate on par with some of the game’s truly elite big men last year, while his 43 effective offloads ranked seventh in the NRL and added a genuine point of difference to the Parramatta attack.
Speaking to NRL.com prior to his new deal being finalised, Brown identified a NSW Blues debut under his 2016 City Origin coach Brad Fittler as the next goal in a career that is gathering serious steam after a stop-start beginning.
“Origin is one of my goals,’ Brown said.
“Obviously everyone would like to play it and I’m no different, I’d love to play Origin. I’ve just got to play great footy for the Eels first and that rep stuff should take care of itself.
“I think Freddy’s fantastic in that environment and the rep footy stuff really suits his style of coaching and how he can get a group of boys together really quickly.
“I loved my time with him in City camp and I picked up a lot from him in that camp and it was great to get that first rep jersey under him.”
Along with plenty of others in the game, Brad Arthur has previously admitted Brown’s rapid progress since arriving at Parramatta had caught him by surprise.
Brown had shown promise during two seasons with the Rabbitohs, but also attracted unwanted attention for flying close to the sun when it came to his confrontational style of play.
He denies controversy around his on-field aggression or exit from Redfern spurred him on last year, but has no plans of slowing down following a summer of personal bests in the gym.
“I had a point to prove to myself last year, but not really anyone else,” Brown said.
“I really enjoyed my footy last year and enjoyed myself as soon as I got to Parra last year and that was the key I think.
“Brad and I sat down at the start down at the start of the pre-season and looked at what I could do to keep improving.
“I’ve gotten a lot stronger in the gym and I think I needed to, that’s what we’ve looked at this pre-season and it’s got me in good shape for round one.”