Brown relishing Saints role
24th January 2013
Former Huddersfield Giants coach Nathan Brown is feeling at home in St Helens - because it reminds him of Sydney.
The former St George Illawarra player and coach made a big impact on his first Super League club, taking the Giants to Wembley and within 80 minutes of a maiden Grand Final in his four years at the John Smith’s Stadium, and is expected to bring back the trophy-winning days to St Helens.
Saints were the last team to do the League and Cup double and, although it is five years since their last trophy triumph, Brown says he is privileged to join one of the game’s established big guns.
“A lot of coaches would like to have this job,” said Brown, who has signed a three-year contract. “Obviously it’s a club with a lot of good tradition.
“They’ve been very successful for a long time. You feel privileged to have a job at such a strong club.
“It’s a lot like back home - everybody loves rugby league.”
The spotlight will be on the 39-year-old Australian when he goes up against his old club in next Saturday’s round one Super League clash at Langtree Park, but he is not looking back.
“All clubs are different,” he said. “It would be very unfair to compare St Helens and Huddersfield.
“We had a great time at Huddersfield. I think we were a good fit for each other for a period of time. Now we move on. This is a different type of challenge.”
Brown has made three signings ahead of his first season at Langtree Park, bringing in Jordan Turner and Willie Manu from Hull FC and snapping up promising forward Alex Walmsley from Batley Bulldogs.
The Hull pair are straight replacements for Michael Shenton and Chris Flannery, however, and Brown acknowledges he does not need to fix something that is not broken.
After all, Saints were Grand Finalists six years in a row up to last season.
“A lot of good things are happening at this club that don’t need changing,” he said.
“It’s about trying to get some individual improvement out of all the players, maybe just adding one or two small things to the team because, whilst the team may not have won anything, they are always there or thereabouts.
“The reality is that Leeds and Warrington have won six out of the eight trophies in the four years I’ve been here.
“They’re the two teams you’ve got to catch. To do that we need to get individual improvement unless you go and buy five or six players which we’re not doing.
“We’re quite comfortable with our squad. It’s about trying to get some small bits of improvement.”
Brown had the bonus of being able to work with his full squad during pre-season training after St Helens failed to provide a single player for England’s autumn internationals.
“One of the things that has held the game back here at international level is that all the best players go and play for their country at the end of the year,” he said.
“They should do that but it means they don’t get to have a pre-season, which is the time when they get to improve their game.
“It’s when the coaches get a chance to work with the players and, if you’re not coming to training in pre-season, you can’t add stuff to your game.
“It’s been great to work with blokes who have been so successful, such as James Roby, Paul Wellens and Jon Wilkin, who have played in numbers of Grand Finals.
“Watching the way they prepare their bodies to train, turn up for training and the way they practise is great to see. It only confirms what you already know about good, successful players.”