Parramatta five-eighth Dylan Brown conceded he found the build-up to Sunday’s grand final loss “overwhelming” but vowed the side will learn from the lessons and come back stronger in 2023.
Brown’s Eels struggled to keep up with a relentless Panthers outfit who set up a 22-0 lead in the decider before barely putting a foot wrong all game to claim back-to-back titles.
Although he didn’t want to blame the side’s preparation for the loss, Brown said the external build-up for one of the most anticipated grand finals in recent history, was something no player can prepare for.
“The week was very overwhelming, it was full on with a lot of media and everything,” Brown said post-match.
“Honestly, not that you don’t think you’re going to make the grand final but it’s always hard to see [it as a reality].
“When you get there it’s a surreal feeling and it hurts so much to lose. It makes you want to come back again and get the win.
“But it is what it is and is finals footy. It was so good to see all the Parra fans get up. I live out west so the hype around everything.
Match Highlights: Panthers v Eels
“There’s more to winning. We all feel [the fans] and appreciate the support they give us. It’s seriously massive.
“A lot of people doubted us getting through the finals. We didn’t get the win but I hope they got a glimpse of what we’re capable of.”
Brown said the Eels were simply outplayed by a Panthers outfit who looked comfortable after playing on the grand final big stage previously.
"They play perfect [and] you’ve got to be 10 times better than they are and we weren’t," he said.
"It’s hard to win any game of footy, whether it’s a normal one or the grand final and we didn’t take our opportunities when we needed to or defend our line very well.
"Honestly I’m just gutted."
It's not all bad news for Brown, however, with the Eels five-eighth set to play a big part for the Kiwis in the upcoming World Cup starting on October 15.
Brown will go into the tournament after his most consistent NRL season so far in his four-year career.
"It’s been good for my confidence, last year I was disappointed with how I played, I was below average and that’s not acceptable being an NRL player," Brown said.
"I took time to work on my game and take it as a responsibility rather than an honour.
"I’ve done that this year and it’s showed in my footy. Hopefully I can get something out of this World Cup and enjoy a good little hit out in England."
Match: Panthers v Eels
Grand Final -
Venue: Accor Stadium, Sydney