Brown ready for All Blacks challenge
June 11, 2008
England full-back Mike Brown is being asked to jump from the frying pan into the fire for Saturday's first Test against New Zealand - and he is relishing the challenge.
Brown made his international debut in an under-strength England team on last summer's tour of South Africa and he was given a rough ride by Schalk Burger and the world champions-in-waiting.
Twelve months and one impressive Guinness Premiership season later and Brown is back in an England shirt - this time up against one of the most potent attacking units in world rugby.
England's back three of Brown, David Strettle and debutant Topsy Ojo boast just seven caps between them, compared to the 79 won by All Blacks trio Mils Muliaina, Sitiveni Sivivatu and Anthony Tuitavake.
"It has been a hard start to international rugby but I learned from the whole experience of playing in a place like South Africa and I am definitely more ready for it now,'' said Brown.
"'The rugby in South Africa was a little bit more intense because it was international level.
"The whole All Blacks team is full of world class players and I think they will probably target us because of our inexperience.
"But we are confident in our own abilities and look forward to showing them what we can do.''
Brown was struck down by a virus the night before making his Test debut against a rampant Springboks side at altitude.
"It wasn't the greatest combination,'' he recalled with a wry smile.
"It probably felt a lot worse than it was because I was ill.''
But Brown bounced back well. He was an ever present for Harlequins in the Guinness Premiership, playing more minutes than any other player in the league last season.
"As a young player, after a setback like that you are a bit negative for a while,'' he added. "But Dean Richards and Andy Friend were a massive help.
"They helped me look at the positive side of that trip to South Africa and within a couple of months I had settled back into life at Quins.
"I only missed two games all season - one in the EDF Cup and one in Europe - and now I feel a more mature player.
"It is obviously harder in your second year because everybody knows you better. It will be good to test myself against players like Muliaina and Sivivatu.''
Brown has already had a taste of what it takes to become a top-class international having worked at Harlequins alongside former All Black Andrew Mehrtens.
"He was a big influence on me and he helped me out a lot,'' said Brown.
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