Young Rebels fullback offered chance of a lifetime
RUGBY LEAGUE: South Grafton rising star Tyrhys Brown is the latest player to be plucked from the rugby league proving grounds of the Clarence Valley.
The athletic fullback, who was part of the Rebels premiership-winning under-15s outfit, has been offered the opportunity of a lifetime.
He will join the Penrith Panthers elite academy group for the next two seasons, continuing his development in a junior system that continues to produce at the elite level.
It was an opportunity that Brown never thought possible, even after he received the phone call to seal his fate.
"It's a lot to take in, I've always said I'm not good enough to make it to any rep side but to be selected by Penrith is an unreal feeling,” he said.
"I am still finding things out about the opportunity, but I am excited for the challenge.”
Brown earned the chance to join the Panthers through his management company Velocity Sports, the same team behind Panthers' Ilukan recruit Daine Laurie.
Much in the same vein as Laurie, Brown is also a hard running, lightning quick fullback. But it is a position he is still working out after making the switch from the forward pack earlier this season.
"I didn't think I would go that well (this year) just because coming from being a forward all my footy life, then when I came to Rebels I started in the centres for the first game then the second game I went back to fullback,” Brown said.
"But (Rebels coach) Rod Gallagher was pretty happy with me back there so I stayed for majority of the season. This season was my break out season I think.”
The Rebels lost only three games across the Group 1 season, and dominated in the grand final against Ballina. It was a major turnaround after the same side had beaten them in semi-finals two weeks before.
"We lost three games all season which is pretty outstanding, the experience was actually pretty good,” Brown said.
"Once we lost the first game we just put our heads down and worked harder at training and started playing more as a team. We ended up going 11 straight wins in a row.”
It was this success that led to Brown being spotted by former Rebels coach Dallas Waters, who connected him with Velocity Sports. But it was a dream that would not be without the support of Brown's family, especially his pop Robert Brown who also played for the Rebels. While better known as Matador in his playing days, Robert was bullish getting his grandson into sport and helping him grow in his formative years. It is this support that Tyrhys wants to pay back if he can make it all the way.
"My pop is always pushing me to do my best on the way to footy, at footy, and even after footy,” he said. "I gotta say if it wasn't for my Pop, I wouldn't have this opportunity.”