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'I've got to take it': Brown's plan to step up involvement

He's still only 20, but gifted Parramatta five-eighth Dylan Brown now feels experienced enough to assume a more assertive attacking role in his third NRL season.

Brown, who has played 33 first-grade games, has quickly become a key cog for the Eels alongside halfback Mitchell Moses.

The pair have struck up a slick combination, but Brown told they're continually working on achieving the perfect balance with his 26-year-old comrade naturally being "quite a dominant half".

And that means the younger playmaker showing increased confidence in picking the moments to inject himself into the action.

"Not so much overcalling, it's just knowing when to get involved. When the opportunity is there, I've got to take it," Brown said.

"It's more so just coming from within, like backing myself and understanding when I need the ball [and] the players outside me, understanding what they need and getting them the ball."

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Eels halves coach Andrew Johns's involvement was restricted from outside the club's COVID bubble in 2020, but the eighth Immortal is back at close quarters at training, which is set to accelerate Brown's development.

The rising Kiwi star's body is in good order after an ankle injury caused him to miss four games before last year's finals, while a condensed pre-season hasn't been "as draining" as normal.

And Brown said the lower-back bruising which plagued him during his debut season in 2019, an issue more commonly reported in fast-bowling cricketers, was no longer troubling him.

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"Quite a lot of the boys, most league boys have problems with their back. But the main problem – I had that injury in my first year [of NRL] – the seriousness of that is gone," he said.

"It's just managing [that]; it's just part of my everyday routine."

While paying no mind to "the same shit they always say" regarding pressure on Parramatta to win a title amid a 35-year drought, Brown pulled no punches about where they need to improve following another straight-sets playoffs exit.

"To be honest, we're still pretty disappointed … We had two chances there [in 2020] and we sort of crumbled," he said.

"It just came down to disciplinary things. There are lots of positives … but you don't want to go the whole year and finish [the way we did].

"We sort of did the same thing the year before; we got to the finals and put on a rubbish performance [losing in week two]. We're just going to have to stick in it this year and be ready for the back end."

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Off the field, Brown is among the most popular players on social media, where he isn't shy in being his laidback self. He enjoys engaging with fans, even though the 24/7 access can be "full-on".

"Young people, that's our crowd. If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have a job," he said.

"Interacting with them – it's good for them, they get a lot out of it, and it's good for us … I try to stay active on social media and show people what I get up to."

Acknowledgement of Country

Parramatta Eels respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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