Brown had to take off his passing blinkers to be a Lion
YOU would have to have an ice block rather than a heart not to empathise with Mike Brown, and all the other Home Unions players, whose hopes were dashed when they missed out on selection for the 2017 Lions.
Even Warren Gatland was in touchy-feely mode when, having heard that the England full-back was fuming at his rejection in last week’s TRP, he said Brown was free to get in touch.
“I can understand the disappointment and frustration – he’s welcome to give me a call if he feels hard done by,” the Lions coach said.
Brown’s quest for selfimprovement has been unrelenting, including self-funded training sessions with sprint coach Margot Wells to increase his pace and power. It has paid dividends, with his footwork and sinewy strength on the counterattack or going for the high ball frequently outstanding, especially in 2014 and 2015.
Brown’s contention that he has played “really well from 2015 onwards”, including since Eddie Jones arrival as England coach, is also fair enough in most respects. However, the one area of self-improvement where Brown has consistently fallen short of Test quality is in his attacking distribution – and this season it appeared to have regressed rather than improved.
Chances will need to be taken against New Zealand if the Lions are to stay in the hunt to win the series. Brown’s regular failure to pass, or link, with support runners who are better placed during the Six Nations, and the autumn, led to criticism that he was too blinkered – and it cost him.
Brown may yet get a call from the Lions, but one of the things this student of self-help should do during the Argentina tour is work hard on the quality passing and timing that will set his team-mates free.