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Big Ben stands tall

Mitchell Jones  December 7, 2017 3:34 PM

Star forward Ben Brown is preparing to become more of a senior figure in 2018, as he enters his fifth year in the AFL.

“It’s really exciting for me given that I’ve gone from being one of the youngsters to being one of the most experienced players at the club pretty quickly, so I think I can start to take a little bit more of a leadership role.” Brown told SEN on Thursday morning.

Brown, who spent most of November in the Australian International Rules camp alongside some of the game’s best players, is looking to share the lessons he learnt from his representative teammates with North’s young, emerging list. 

“Suddenly I’m in the same team as guys like Paddy Dangerfield and I’m sitting next to (Nat) Fyfe at dinner, it was a pretty nuts experience,” he said.

“I just tried to take in as much as I could while I was on the trip and talk to the guys and get to know a couple of them a bit better, and just observe how they went about it.

“The guys’ professionalism even while they were on the trip stood out. There was no set time for gym or extra running, but the amount of guys who took up the extra training load and knew they had to be in the best possible nick when they got back to their clubs, even when they were the best players in the league, was pretty amazing to watch.

“I think everyone just wanted to get better, and that was really exciting for me as far as watching guys like Nat Fyfe go about it, who are just trying to improve even when they’re at the level they’re at.”

Having started his career during a successful period in North’s history, Brown has witnessed what it takes to develop a winning culture around the club, and is committed to ensuring the team gets back to its winning ways.

“I came straight into a club that was playing preliminary finals pretty much straight away, and I thought ‘how good’s footy?’. So it was a bit of a different season last year, but I think it’s really positive for a few of these young guys that there is a lot of competition for spots and opportunities for guys.

“Our draft picks this year have come in really excited to get going, because they can see that there’s going to be opportunities for them.

“We’re trying to build that (culture) at the moment and work on drilling how we want to play into the young guys. We want to make ourselves a club that other teams envy, in terms of our culture.”

Brown, who finished third in last year’s Coleman Medal race, is looking forward to the returning faces who could play alongside him in the forward line in 2018.

“We’ve got guys like Nick Larkey who is a second-year key-forward who I’m really excited about playing some footy with, and Majak Daw, who if he gets his body right can be capable of playing good minutes in the ruck and is so athletic that I think we’d love to have him in the team too,” he said.

“We had (Jarrad) Waite play on a wing at various points of last season and he played incredibly well. I think he’s capable of playing just about anywhere on the ground which is why it would be really exciting to have him have a massive year next year.

“Then you get guys like Mason Wood come back into the team, Kayne Turner and Taylor Garner as smalls, and Nathan Hrovat was really good for us last year coming in from the Dogs.

“Of course we’ve got our younger guys who’ve just come in to the side and are still kind of finding their feet at the moment, but you never know what those guys are going to pull out as well.”

Brown can’t wait for 2018 and says Roos’ fans should be ready to see the continued development of some impressive youngsters.  

“I think it’s a really exciting time for North Melbourne members in terms of you’ll get to see next year a lot of new faces and some guys will surprise you,” he added.