Lewis Brown : 'Panthers feels like home'
Tuesday 11 December 2012 4:42 PM
Of all the new recruits to the Panthers, Lewis Brown was the first to officially put pen to paper.
"I think I was the first to sign my contract, maybe the other boys followed me here?" Brown jokes.
He may light heartedly discuss his big move now, but the switch from New Zealand to Sydney's west but it was a difficult decision for the burly forward.
"Leaving NZ was very very hard, there was a few scary phone calls to my mum and grandfather. It was difficult leaving the Warriors because it was like my family, I wasn't sure if I could find another club where I felt so comfortable."
Thankfully for Panthers fans, Brown took the leap and decided to move across the Tasman in search of a new challenge.
"i' walked into the Panthers and it immediately felt like home. everyone is so welcoming, it's amazing." Lewis beams happily.
"I am so happy here. It's a true family."
Brown certainly feels the love at the foot of the mountains. So much so he's finding it hard to reconcile the differences between the Panthers he read about in season 2012, and the club he's currently enjoying so much.
"i have to admit last year I would read the paper and see the drama coming from the Panthers and was a bit worried. But now i'm at training and looking around at everyone smiling and think, is this the same place? Seriously?" he chuckles.
"I needn't have worried. There's a great feeling here, we really have an amazing bunch of blokes. Everyone is really mellow, positive and drama free.
Lewis speaks purposefully, with a quiet confidence that belies his age. He is obviously adept at self analysis.
"I'm the first to admit I didn't have my best year in 2012, missing out on a Kiwi jumper burnt me badly. But I didn't deserve it. I wasn't playing good footy."
Brown was struggling and began to consider leaving the Warriors. "I felt like i was in a rut. I phoned Ivan and felt out if there was a place for me at Penrith.And there was. i knew a fresh start was what I needed."
So why Penrith? His close relationship with Coach Cleary was a major draw card.
"Ivan was the first to give me my chance in first grade. He's taking me to places in my career I never would have without him. I like his coaching style, and I trust him. We just gel I guess."
The chance to reunite with his coaching mentor wasn't the only thing luring Lewis to Penrith.
"Gus being the General Manager of the Panthers was a huge attraction for me. I've always looked up to him, the way he coached NSW was incredible and so inspiring. I love the way he operates. I haven't spent too much time with him yet but I think he can teach me a lot, I want to soak up all his knowledge."
In an unexpected twist, Lewis cites spying the work ethic and brotherhood of the Panthers from afar and wanting to be a part of it.
"Believe it or not, I've been wanting to play for the Panthers for awhile. I remember playing against them and thinking what a dedicated bunch of blokes they were, really there for each other. I wanted to be a part of that and now I am."
The hard tackling forward says he's fitted in seamlessly,
"It's been lucky I've started with so many other new players. There's a great feeling here, we really have a great bunch of blokes. Everyone is really mellow, positive and drama free. We haven't all played together yet, but we're already a team."
Brown is cautiously hopeful for the season 2013.
"I've played in a Grand Final. And I honestly think we have the squad to achieve anything here. i don't want to talk us up but the feeling at training is seriously awesome."
But Brown says in the near future his goal is simple : train hard and secure a spot in the 17 for our trial matches.
"That's all I'm focused on right now. I set high standards for myself and I want to reach them. I always want to be better."
But he admits he will be spending the summer day dreaming about donning on the famous black jersey and running out as Panther for the first time.
"I'm a New Zealand boy but I feel like I'm truly at home here. I can't wait to pull on that jersey for the first time and run out in front of a home crowd. It's going to be epic."