Italy captain handed NRL lifeline following turbulent few years: ‘He feels he has a point to prove’

Ben Olawumi
Nathan Brown warms up for Sydney Roosters

Nathan Brown warms up ahead of a Round 20 clash in the NRL between Sydney Roosters and Melbourne Storm. Photo by AAP Image/Mark Evans.

Nathan Brown has been handed a lifeline in the NRL by Manly Sea Eagles following a turbulent few years, penning a ‘train and trial’ contract to try and earn a more permanent deal ahead of the 2024 season.

Forward Brown – a namesake of the former St Helens and Newcastle Knights head coach – saw his departure from Sydney Roosters announced back in September.

Joining the Roosters in March, he would feature 10 times, sent off against – coincidentally – Manly in Round 23 and soon after being sin-binned twice in one game having dropped down to play in the New South Wales Cup against another familiar opposition Parramatta Eels.

He had departed the Eels for the Roosters after a six-season stint was brought to an end in strange circumstances, informed by Parramatta that he wasn’t part of their plans with 18 months left on his contract, but given a brief last run out in the 2022 NRL Grand Final defeat to Penrith Panthers.

For months before that Grand Final, he’d been limited to playing reserve-grade, though the Italy captain did go on to feature in all three of their group games at last year’s World Cup including a 66-6 defeat to eventual champions Australia in St Helens.

Italy captain Nathan Brown handed NRL lifeline following turbulent few years: ‘He feels he has a point to prove’

Fairfield-born Brown – who mainly features at loose – started his career Down Under with Wests Tigers, debuting for them in the NRL against St George Illawarra back in 2013.

That proved his only senior appearance for Wests though, joining South Sydney Rabbitohs in March 2015 and remaining there for the two seasons which followed before linking up with Parramatta.

Set to turn 31 in March 2024, the forward will now try to impress enough to earn a permanent deal with Manly for the upcoming season, with the Sea Eagles’ head coach – Anthony Seibold – enjoying having someone with his experience around.

“Nathan brings close to 150 games of NRL experience. He played in a Grand Final for Parramatta and has played State of Origin for the Blues (New South Wales).

“One thing Nathan adds is extra depth to our middle forwards group. We’ve had some really good competition for spots there, so to have another player who can bring experience and talent to our group is really important.

“The other thing is that ‘Browny’ has come here for the right reasons. He feels as though he has got a bit of a point to prove. We now give him that opportunity.

“Like every player here, there are no guarantees but I just know he will compete hard for a spot. It can only help improve us a group.”

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