Brown Named For Star-Studded Samoa
Hornby Panthers junior and Cronulla Sharks utility Fa’amanu Brown has been named in a star-studded Toa Samoa squad for next week’s historic Test against England at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
The 22-year-old debuted for the island nation on the corresponding representative weekend in 2016, playing five-eighth kicking three goals in an 18-6 win over Tonga.
Brown was accompanied in the halves by another Christchurch-born playmaker in that match, Pita Godinet, but changes to the eligibility rules in World Cup year means he will be surrounded by an even higher calibre of teammate this time around.
Brown shapes as the likely halves partner for Brisbane Broncos superstar Anthony Milford, while Kangaroos Test reps Josh McGuire and Sione Mata’utia, State of Origin hopeful Joey Leilua, Kiwis reps Sam Kasiano, Suaia Matagi and Isaac Liu, Wests Tigers winger David Nofoaluma, St George Illawarra centre Tim Lafai and North Queensland sensation John Asiata headline a mouth-watering array of talent.
One of the most versatile players in the NRL, Brown’s 2017 first-grade aspirations have been frustrated by the Sharks’ outstanding depth.
He burst onto the scene as a 19-year-old five-eighth for the battling club in 2014, playing 11 rookie-season games before a knee injury suffered at the Auckland Nines wiped out his sophomore campaign.
Brown played four games in the top flight for the eventual premiers in 2016, and shaped as a contender for the vacant No.9 jumper following the retirement of Michael Ennis. Rookie Jayden Brailey snared the role, however, and after coming off the bench in the World Club Challenge against Wigan and in the Sharks’ Round 1 loss to the Broncos, Brown has had to settle for leading the Newtown Jets around as a five-eighth or halfback.
The club recruited high-profile hooker James Segeyaro, and despite the former Cowboys and Panthers rake’s broken arm after just three games, Sharks coach Shane Flanagan has preferred to roll with a four-forward interchange since.
But next week represents a big opportunity for Brown to show his wares on a big stage again, with Samoa rated a big chance of upsetting Wayne Bennett’s England side after the teams produced a cliff-hanger to kick off the 2014 Four Nations in Brisbane.
Ultra-professional and one of the nicest young players in the game – not to mention a viral sensation last year after attempting to recharge his iPhone in a microwave – Brown’s selection in Matt Parish’s line-up is the first major step towards securing a place in Samoa’s Rugby League World Cup squad.
SAMOA SQUAD TO PLAY ENGLAND
Leeson Ah Mau – St George Illawarra Dragons
John Asiata – North Queensland Cowboys
Fa’amanu Brown – Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Herman Ese’ese – Brisbane Broncos
Sam Kasiano – Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Tim Lafai – St George Illawarra Dragons
Joseph Leilua – Canberra Raiders
Isaac Liu – Sydney Roosters
Josh McGuire– Brisbane Broncos
Peter Mata’utia – Newcastle Knights
Sione Mata’utia – Newcastle Knights
Suaia Matagi – Parramatta Eels
Anthony Milford – Brisbane Broncos
David Nofoaluma – Wests Tigers
Kaysa Pritchard – Parramatta Eels
Sauaso Sue – Wests Tigers
Antonio Winterstein – North Queensland Cowboys
WILL EVANS – CANTERBURY RUGBY LEAGUE