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Eels five-eighth Dylan Brown.

Like many young New Zealanders, Dylan Brown grew up idolising Shaun Johnson and Benji Marshall.

So it's no surprise the 19-year-old was "sort of starstruck" in Kiwis camp alongside his heroes during preparations for this weekend's World Cup 9s.

Johnson will captain the country at Bankwest Stadium and while Marshall isn't playing he has been around the team in readiness for the upcoming Test matches.

"[Johnson] is obviously one of the best players to play in the Kiwi jersey along with Benji Marshall as well," Brown told

"I'm trying to learn as much as possible [from them]."

The rookie Eels five-eighth is content to play second-fiddle to Sharks star Johnson in the modified game.

"I'll be going off him and letting him play. I'm just enjoying being alongside him," Brown said.

World Cup 9s Player Focus: Dylan Brown

The composed Brown couldn't be prouder to earn his first senior Kiwis cap - especially since he didn't think he'd make Parramatta's NRL side at the start of the year.

"I'm sort of just taking it as it comes and having a crack when I get these opportunities," Brown said.

"I came from New Zealand when I was younger, so being able to represent them in a rep team means it all and it shows off the hard work that I've done."

The list of superstars to grace the field at Bankwest Stadium on Friday and Saturday is endless - but it's two familiar faces that Brown is wary of.

Anyone can win: Maguire ready for open World Cup 9s

"My own [Eels] teammates - Waqa Blake and Maika Sivo for Fiji," he said.

"We've all caught up and 'Waqz' said he's going to take my head off [if Fiji and New Zealand meet]."

Brown won't have a set role given the frantic pace of Nines and he believes it's imperative to rely on instincts in the format.

"There's so much room and you've just got to see it and play. Especially being a halfback, you've just got to go out there and have fun," Brown said,

"Do what you do best, use your footwork ... But I'm still going to have to step up at certain times in terms of playmaking and kicking."


For ticket and travel packages for the Downer Rugby League World Cup 9s Sydney 2019, head to

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