Posted February 13, 2019 08:25:36When the NRL season kicks off this weekend, it will be the first time a player from New South Wales has made an NRL debut.
There are a handful of young players in the competition who were born in the state, but none who have made it to the NRL before.
So why do some NRLers who grew up in NSW make it to such an elite level?
The answer to that is far from simple.
For some, it’s a matter of luck, or a family legacy.
In the case of Nathan Brown, who has been playing for Cronulla since 2013, it was a mixture of both.
Brown, born in Sydney and raised in the inner-west of the state was the second-youngest player to make the grade when he broke into the NSW side in 2015.
His father, James, was a coach at the Sharks, and his mother, Sally, was the sister of the then-coach Michael Cheevers.
But James was not a big fan of playing in the NRL, and was told to give his son a shot at the sport.
After his first year in the league, James said he had decided to try his hand at the AFL.
Brown said he wanted to make sure he was ready for the AFL before going on the big stage.
But he also wanted to show his dad he could play at a top level, so he was given a spot in the Sharks training camp, despite his age.
Brown made his NRL debut for Cronulina against the Gold Coast Titans in round 18, 2016, before being named on the Panthers’ side.
He played a full 90 minutes and scored his first career try against North Queensland in round 20, before taking the field against the Storm in round 26.
Brown’s best season was in round 29, when he was named in the side for the first two matches of the grand final.
He made a further 17 appearances in the Grand Final, before scoring his first try against the Bulldogs in the third quarter of the game.
Brown had played just eight games in the first half of the season, but returned in round 23.
He was a regular in the final eight, scoring five tries and kicking two goals.
Brown scored his only try of the final quarter of round 30, when his team was beaten by the Bulldogs.
He was also the most capped player for the NSW State of Origin team, with 16 appearances for the Blues.
Brown played an instrumental role in Cronulla’s run to the grand finals, and in the last two years he has had an average of 23.2 disposals and five clearances a game.
It’s been a rollercoaster for Brown, whose career was derailed in 2016 when he got a three-year contract extension to the Panthers, which he signed in May.
His contract expired in March, and he signed with the Broncos, a club that he had spent his entire career with.
The Broncos have a record of 10 wins and six losses in 10 games, with Brown scoring just four goals and one assist.
Brown will have to wait until the NRL’s season kicks-off in June to see if he’ll have another crack at playing NRL.
But it’s clear that his career is not over, and it’s unlikely he’ll ever again be a player that could make a living as an NRL player.
Topics:nrl,nsw,nrl-football,rugby-league,australiaFirst posted February 13-2019 07:06:42More stories from New Zealand