NEW Giants coach Nathan Brown is a man who has always enjoyed a challenge.
At the age of 19, he was already carving out a strong reputation at St George Illawarra as one of Australia’s top young hookers.
And five years later, he had been named co-captain of the club, along with Craig Smith. That was young for a player in the Australian NRL.
But in 2001, he was forced to retire at the age of just 27 when he suffered a neck injury in a pre-season clash.
Exhaustive medical tests confirmed that as well as the neck damage, Brown was suffering from an unrelated congenital problem with his spinal chord. At the time, he was on the verge of breaking into the Australian Test team.
But, in a moment, a career that had seen him play 171 matches, scoring 32 tries, and appear in three Australian Grand Finals, was all over.
It was a devastating blow.
Yet Brown was determined to stay positive and remain in the sport he loved so much.
Within months, he was in coaching charge of the St George junior side and in October 2002 was appointed head coach of the club following the departure of Andrew Farrar.
He was just 29 and had become the youngest NRL coach in the game’s history.
In the next four seasons he enhanced his reputation as one of the best coaches in the business, and this year has guided the Dragons to fifth place in the table. A Grand Final dream is very much alive.
But at the start of the year, Brown knew his days at the club were numbered.
On the Australian NRL coaching merry-go-round, St George announced in April that six-time Premiership coach, Brisbane Broncos mentor and former Australian coach Wayne Bennett would be taking over for 2009.
And Brown knew he would need to start looking for new employment.
Fortunately, the Giants job came at just the right time.
He admits moving to the other side of the world is a pretty daunting prospect, especially with a young family in tow.
As well as his wife, Tanya, he has the welfare of his three young daughters – Issabella (five), Annelise (three) and Ann Giselle (four months) – to consider.
That was clearly one of the major factors that needed to be taken into account.
But, having made his decision, it’s obvious Brown is determined to give the Giants everything he’s got.
Having done so much to establish himself as one of the best coaches in the fierce Australian NRL, he doesn’t want to see that reputation slip in Super League.
He knows his got a tough task ahead of him.
But it’s clear he’ll be ready!