Penrith Panthers prop Tim Browne is preparing for life after footy by opening a rugby league academy to ensure young players who miss junior representative selection continue to have an NRL pathway in Sydney’s west.
A player’s journey to the Telstra Premiership often progresses through NSW and Queensland’s under 16 and 18 competitions, but Browne’s rise to the top level offers a different perspective.
The 30-year-old was never a standout in the game’s junior systems as a teenager after missing selection for the Newcastle Knights’ SG Ball Cup squad in 2006.
A last-minute opportunity to join the South Sydney Rabbitohs’ Jersey Flegg squad delivered Browne his first representative jersey at 19.
“I really took my footy seriously when I was 15 years old and I got knocked back on a number of occasions,” Browne told NRL.com.
“I was losing motivation and confidence in myself. There is so much talent in the whole of rugby league. All these kids coming through third and fourth division don’t even get a look-in to these higher rep programs.
“From my experience the kids who are motivated and want to do a lot more go on to do well more than a kid who is talented but doesn’t really care.”
Browne has now put out the welcome mat to teenagers in a similar boat with the Leading Edge Rugby League program.
Along with his commitments as a contracted player with the Panthers, the Raymond Terrace junior has joined a host of qualified trainers to deliver rugby league specific programs catered to any individual and their needs.
“I never had a program like this to fall back on, it was either club footy or train by yourself,” Browne said.
“What I’ve tried to create is a program where all kids can come and share the same passion and motivation. I think it’s really important the boys have somewhere to go to stay passionate and in love with the game otherwise you’re going to lose them to other codes.
“This program isn’t just for kids who want to go on and play in the NRL, it’s just for kids who want to better themselves.”
Browne is undertaking five-week programs with players aged between 14 to 16, and has now opened applications for boys aged between 17 and 18.
LERLA will also introduce a program for female players due to the rise of women’s rugby league.
“I get a lot of satisfaction out of watching the kids smile and improve,” Browne said.
“I want to cater for everyone and it’s a great way for me to give back to the game. I’d love to see this program go onto bigger and better things.”
While the program has given Browne a new insight into coaching, the former Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs prop has no intentions of mentoring at an elite level.
He did admit however that it’s provided a different outlook on a gruelling off-season at the foot of the mountains after 19 games in his first season as a Panther in 2017.
“I found that since starting the program I’ve really enjoyed pre-season,” Browne said.
“It’s given me some extra motivation to do well and inspire some of these young kids.
“Hopefully I can have a great year and enjoy my football.”