Big stages attract big names, but sometimes (especially in Rugby League) the big stage attracts some lesser-known names – none more so than Penrith rookie Daniel Brown.
World Cup years are always full of surprises as players from all corners of the world dig deep into their heritage.
The 2013 World Cup saw, among countless others, Yorkshireman James Saltonstall (Italy), Australians James Guertjens (Wales) and Kane Linnett (Scotland) as well as New Zealanders Eddy Pettybourne (USA) and Api Pewhairangi (Ireland) all commit to the land of their ancestors.
Fast forward to 2017 and Wales coach John Kear has been loyal to those who have worked hard to restore pride in the Wales jersey over recent years.
Kear’s 38-man train on squad for the 2017 spectacle features only six uncapped players – three of which are youthful antipodeans who have tapped into their own Welsh heritage.
They are Newcastle Knights half-back Josh Ralph, Penrith fullback Caleb Aekins and the aforementioned Daniel Brown.
The St Clair Comets junior regards himself as a versatile player in fine form. At 6’3 and 88kg, the part-time teacher’s aide cuts a rangy figure on Penrith’s flank with 16 tries in 15 games in the under 20s competition
“I grew up playing centre and I can really play anywhere in the outside backs. Most of my career has been at full-back and this is my first full year on the wing!”
Brown hopes that the World Cup will help transition him from part-time to full-time.
Until then, however, it is all about the experience and should het get the final call he may be accompanied by a familiar face in Penrith teammate, New Zealand born Caleb Aekins.
“It’s my best year yet and I’m aiming for that final cut (World Cup squad), it would be an unreal experience! Hopefully then I can play some NRL over the next couple of years.
“Caleb’s great, he’s versatile and has unreal work rate! He’ll certainly bring something to the team and he’s been a joy to play with over the last few years.”
Brown qualifies through his grandfather who was born in Penybryn, a small village near Caerphilly, and lived in Gelligaer. Though Brown admits it’s a land he doesn’t know a great deal about a bit like the fellow Welshman he could line up with for a country on a 6 game unbeaten run.
“All of Grandpa’s side are Welsh but unfortunately I’ve never been over there, of course it’s something I’d one day love to do!
“I don’t know a great deal about them (Wales players) but I know they’ll be top quality players. I just look forward to getting to know them.”