‘Best I’ve felt: Eels’ Brown eyes comeback season

Jasper Bruce |

Parramatta’s Dylan Brown has overhauled his diet this season and is feeling better than ever.
Parramatta’s Dylan Brown has overhauled his diet this season and is feeling better than ever.

There was a time Dylan Brown would do anything he could to avoid eating vegetables.

Now, broccolini is helping the Parramatta five-eighth resurrect a career thrown on to the rocks last season, and he’s feeling the best he ever has because of it.

For Brown, 2023 was a year to forget. He pleaded guilty to two counts of unwanted sexual touching following a boozy night out midway through the season.

Banned for seven games, Brown watched on as the Eels’ season deteriorated in his absence, the side eventually missing finals despite making the grand final the previous year.

Parramatta coach Brad Arthur has made no secret of the high expectations he has for Brown, who made a tearful apology and a vow to better himself on his return to the NRL late last year.

He has already shown flashes of his best across the first two rounds of the new season.

Brown was the Eels’ creative architect in the 26-18 loss to reigning premiers Penrith last Friday, despite his edge needing to be reshuffled following a concussion to Bailey Simonsson.

Dylan Brown and J'maine Hopgood.
Dylan Brown celebrates with J’maine Hopgood (13) after an Eels try against Penrith. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

Brown set up two tries, the first for second-rower Shaun Lane, with whom he forged a dynamic partnership in the run to the 2022 grand final.

Chasing a comeback season, Brown has overhauled his diet, which he credits for the spring in his step.

“I feel better than ever. I’m just excited to be back playing footy,” he told AAP.

“You’d be surprised what you can do when you just eat well and recover well. In previous years, I’ve been figuring out things.

“Playing NRL is hard, especially 26 weeks of the year, but now I’ve sort of found the recipe.

“Everyone’s got their own little professional things they do.”

Eels captain Clint Gutherson has helped Brown stay on track. The pair spent the off-season sending photos of their healthy meals to each other.

McDonalds has been the first thing scrubbed from Brown’s meal plan.

Brown admits he’s a sucker for a triple cheeseburger meal, with mayo added on, and a large Fanta to wash things down.

The Kiwi international used to hate vegetables so much he’d ask for pickles to be taken off the burger.

Brown is allowing himself a cheat day every now and then, but mostly it’s green vegetables.

“It’s nothing crazy. It’s honestly just eating fresh food and staying away from the confectionery aisle,” he said.

“I’ve always hated veggies, but that’s actually what I’m eating now, only green vegetables, broccolini, butter and garlic. It’s the best.”

Whatever Brown’s doing, it’s working in the eyes of his coach.

“What I really liked about his performance and our performance as a team (against Penrith), we didn’t get flustered, we stayed calm, they kept responding to each other,” Arthur said last Friday night.

“That’s really positive signs for us.”