Home Australia Ten years, eight clubs, one dream: The story of rugby league’s ultimate journeyman

Ten years, eight clubs, one dream: The story of rugby league’s ultimate journeyman

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A group of rugby league players celebrate a try.

Fa’amanu Brown has had many days to remember throughout his 10-year, eight-club rugby league career, but last week was something new, even for him.

After securing his release from Hull FC, he flew from England on Sunday, landed in Australia on Monday, signed with St George Illawarra on Tuesday, trained with them on Thursday and played in the club’s 30-12 win over the Warriors on Friday .

“I didn’t think I’d play on Friday, but Flanno (coach Shane Flanagan) said he was going to throw me in,” Brown said.

“It was surreal to win against a quality team like the Warriors and it was the first time we’ve won back-to-back in a couple of years, so that’s important.

“No one is ever going to turn down an offer to play in the NRL, even if you’re fresh off the plane.”

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Brown’s move is the latest chapter in a long and winding journey that began in Christchurch and has taken the 29-year-old from Cronulla to Canterbury, to Featherstone Rovers in the English second division, to the North Sydney Bears in the NSW Cup and to the Wests. Tigers, back to Canterbury, then Newcastle, Hull FC and finally the Dragons.

That’s nine different spells at eight different clubs on two continents and four different leagues in 11 seasons, for those of you playing at home. The Dragons are the fourth team he has played for in 18 months.

Add to that his appearances for Samoa, his late debut for New Zealand (where he played in Australia’s record-breaking Pacific Championship final last year) and the fact that he overcame a leg injury that saw doctors They said I would never walk again, much less play. , and is one of the most notable careers in modern rugby league.

Some players might consider it derogatory to be described as a journeyman. Brown uses it as a logout on Instagram and wears it as a badge of honor. Few can match his career, on or off the field.

Many people who have faced Brown’s difficulties would have retired long ago. The uncertainty of life as a rugby league bum isn’t for everyone, but Brown has been making the most of what he has for his entire life.

Brown has had a long day since starting at Cronulla. (Getty Images: Mark Kolbe )

“It’s because of my upbringing. We all face adversity in our own journeys, but I grew up in a three-bedroom state home as one of nine children. We just had to deal with what we had,” Brown said.

“These are the difficulties that I have had to go through. I grew up in a home with domestic violence. I grew up in a house where you had to deal with what you had and I have carried that with me.

“When you’re thrown into the deep end, you either swim or drown and I’ve been in that position my whole life.

“That’s what built my resilience and my character. I’m very fortunate with my family and my support base, my fiancé Jordan has been with me through everything. She’s been there on the roller coaster with me.

“There have been many times when I wanted to retire, but I am very lucky.”

Brown got his first chance at the top flight in 2014 with Cronulla as the club struggled to get a handle on the ASADA scandal.

The Sharks were outscored 56-0 in their first two games. But, as he has done so many times, Brown kept at it and Cronulla somehow won the next two games, overturning deficits of 22-0 and 24-0 in the process.

He stayed at the Sharks until the end of 2017 (that’s where he worked with Flanagan, who was instrumental in bringing him to the Dragons this season) before heading to Canterbury and starting his journey.

“It sounds like a cliché, but I love giving back. For me, the only way out of the hood was rugby league. That’s all I knew. So I get to represent people who do it hard,” Brown said.

“There are a lot of kids, some kids who come from nothing, who may be unlucky with injuries or be depressed and think there’s no turning back, that’s what I represent. If I can do it then damn, anyone.” can.

“I never left a stone unturned. You can have all the achievements in the world, but you know in your heart if you gave it your all, if you never stopped fighting.”

That attitude helped Brown the most during the most difficult stretch of his career in 2020, when a succession of foot injuries put his career on the brink.

Five doctors told him he would never play again. Some of them said he would never run again. At the same time, she was caring for her mother during the final stages of her life as she battled lung cancer.

Through it all, he found a way to keep going. He always does it. He has realized that there is more to it than his football career, a perspective that gives him the strength to keep going in the most difficult times.

“Rugby league is a part of me, but it’s not all mine. I’m still a long way from the game and I’m still young in the real world. I’ve had to learn that rugby league is very important to me, but I’m not me,” Brown said.

“So when you get injured, or when you’re on a series of one-year deals or you get lost trying to train too much or thinking about it too much, you have to remember that, and you just learn it through experiences.”

Brown is still hoping he has some experiences left in him. He will play for the Dragons on Anzac Day against the Roosters in front of a sold-out crowd at the Sydney Football Stadium, which is one of rugby league’s big occasions, and with Flanagan’s coaching starting to take effect in the Red V, who knows. Where could this season end?

A man passes the ball during a rugby league match.

Brown landed in Australia just four days before his first match as a Dragon.(NRL Photos: Grant Trouville)

“When you watch the Dragons you can see that when they face adversity they play for each other, they show up. That’s something they haven’t had in recent years and that’s what I think Flanno has bought into, that winning mentality,” Brown said . saying.

“He knows what he’s doing and a lot of the guys trust him and what he’s trying to do.”

For now, Brown’s goals are modest. He wants to earn more minutes while he re-acclimatises to the NRL. He wants to close a contract for next year, to have a little security.

At this point, he’s taking his career year after year, but the end is not yet in sight. The man is still on his journey.

“Not many people can do this, not many people can be in our shoes, so I was always going to take it with both hands,” Brown said.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s one minute or 80 minutes, you can be there in front of 20,000 fans.

“A normal person doesn’t get to experience that, so I’m very grateful for everything, I’m very grateful to be at the elite level and I think this is where I belong.

“I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. With my journey you can’t really write a story like this.”

Aware , updated

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