Harlequins full back Brown relishing battle with Foden for England spot
Harlequins full-back Mike Brown came
through a baptism of fire with England and now insists nothing will faze
him as he targets a starting role for his country in the RBS 6 Nations.
Brown was recalled to the senior
England squad for the first time in over three years this week as part
of Stuart Lancaster's red rose revolution.
On the charge: Mike Brown is relishing England chance
Ben Foden is England's incumbent full-back but Brown is gunning for his jersey and thrilled by the prospect of playing in a competition he has watched since he was seven.
But it has not been a simple journey for the 25-year-old.
Brown won his first two caps against South Africa in 2007, when a third-string squad England received back-to-back hammerings from the Springboks, months before they were crowned world champions.
A year later, Brown won his third cap against the All Blacks in Auckland and subsequent off-field incidents left him questioning whether he even wanted an international future.
But Brown was not willing to let go of his dream. He set about improving both his game and his reputation, with the help of sprint coach Margot Wells and Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea.
'I am a completely different player from when I played against South Africa and New Zealand,' Brown said.
'They are two of the best teams in the world and I have had to learn a lot of lessons from that.
'I have no reason to be worried about any other teams now because I have played against two of the best in the world.'
Impressive: Brown was named Aviva Premiership player of the month
Brown recalls one double-tackle from Schalk Burger and Jean de Villiers as the moment he realised exactly what it would require to make it in Test match rugby.
'It has been a long time. I have had to work really hard over the last three years on my game. I can't wait to get started with England,' Brown said.
'My attacking game has completely changed since I was last in the England squad.
'Margot has helped me out massively. Conor coming in has worked on my decision-making and positional play. I think that has really helped me on the pitch.'
Brown was named the Aviva Premiership player of the month and his next aim is to establish himself of the Test stage.
'It will mean everything to play in the Six Nations. I have been watching that tournament since I was about seven years old. That is why I have been working so hard over the last three years, to be a part of something like this,' Brown said.
'It is going to be a tough ask (to dislodge Foden) but that is why I have been working so hard and I will continue to do that and reach my goal of getting a starting position.'
Lancaster is intent on revolutionising the way England play, shifting the focus onto attack. He will want his players to outwit their opponents rather than simply hammer them.
Brown has worked under Lancaster and Andy Farrell with the Saxons so he is aware of what is required and that attacking intent should suit him down to the ground.
The 25-year-old has one of the biggest boots in the Premiership but he is a running full-back, just as Foden is, and Lancaster is sure to give them both a chance to make an impact.
That would be a radical change from the World Cup, where Foden was left a frustrated onlooker as England opted for a more regimented style.
'Stuart will keep it the same as in the Saxons. I have been part of that and so I know what he wants,' Brown said.
'I am lucky enough to play in a Quins team that is very attack-minded. Hopefully England can do the same.
'There is no reason why he would want to change what he has been doing in the Saxons for the main squad because it has worked so well.'