Cutters prop Brown seeks a path to NRL
A RETURN to the NRL will be just reward should front-rower Nick Brown lead Mackay Cutters to the Intrust Super Cup finals.
Brown, a Maryborough Brothers junior, will start in the front row when the Cutters start their season against joint premiership favourites Townsville Blackhawks at Mackay.
While few bookies have given the Cutters a chance this season - they are predicted to finish near the bottom of the ladder, while Ladbrokes have the side at $51 to win the title - Brown said an intense focus on strength and conditioning during the pre-season had his side on target for a top four finish.
"This is the fittest I've ever been,” Brown said.
"The conditioning was more intense and was structured in a way that didn't burn us out.
"There's not much confidence (in Mackay's hopes) out there but our goal is the top four. We have the team that can do it.”
Brown, a former under-16 Queensland representative, was signed by North Queensland Cowboys as a 17-year-old in 2013, and moved to Townsville at the end of the year.
Six months later he was named man of the match as Townsville Stingers won the Mal Meninga Cup.
He earned three games in the Cowboys' National Youth Championships team in 2015.
A torn hamstring sidelined Brown for most of 2016. He returned to the field in round 25, and reached the preliminary final.
The former St Mary's College student produced a stellar 2017 at the Cutters.
He earned several man of the match awards and was named the club's Player's Player at the end of the year.
His target is the NRL.
"If that (offer) was to come I'd go anywhere,” he said.
"My first goal was to be in the starting side for round one. Now I want to keep my spot, help the Cutters improve and hopefully land a NRL contract.”