Brown but not out: Rookie eyes comeback
Dylan Brown wore a back brace for five weeks. The budding Eels superstar only took it off when he showered, unable to run or do anything strenuous.
The budding Eels superstar only took it off when he showered. Unable to run or do anything strenuous, Brown was forced to take up long bush walking to keep fit.
His teammates playfully mocked him "because I was getting fat in the chin".
Brown has revealed his arduous road back as he prepares to make his return this week after 13 weeks on the sideline due to a stress fracture in his back.
"At the start I was frustrated with being out," Brown said. "The NRL is what every kid dreams to be playing.
"The first few weeks were hard mentally. I was getting pretty fat. After three or four weeks I started to look at the positives. My name was being thrown in the media for a few things so it was good to pipe down and get my name out of the clouds a bit and just be me again.
"The fact my full-time job was away from me (rugby league) was the thing which made me smile. I felt like I didn't have anything to smile about. My family really helped me and made sure I wasn't alone."
For a month Brown said he could "literally do nothing".
He used that time to go back to his native New Zealand before slowly returning to training.
At first it was pilates and strength work on his glutes and core. It was nine weeks before he could run in a straight line again. Brown couldn't play golf or go bowling with his teammates.
Initially he was in constant pain.
"There was a period where it hurt to walk," Brown said. "I couldn't walk without it being a hassle. If I sat in the car too long my back would stiffen up.
"We knew there was something wrong with my back towards the trial games. We were trying to push through it. We got to the point it took the whole week to recover (after games).
"I couldn't keep going. At first they said it would be two weeks. Then six weeks. Now it's been 13. The first couple of weeks there were a lot of movies, Netflix and eating.
"The boys were giving me heaps of stick at training because I was getting fat.
"I ended up going for walks. I could still walk so I would go on adventures. I would go to the Royal National Park. I loved the coastal walks - Wedding Cake Rock and the Figure Eight pools."
The Parramatta medical staff noticed Brown's posture was wrong. They set about rectifying it in a bid to help ensure the L3 injury - which is generally seen in cricket fast bowlers - didn't happen again.
"I had a brace for the first five weeks," Brown said. "That helped a lot. It got me use to standing right. I ended up taking it off and it hurt to go back to my old way.
"The boys were giving stick because it looked like a corset. Now my posture is normal."
Brown used his time away to continue his business course each Monday night and helped out with charity Pass It On Clothing.
He celebrated his 19th birthday on Friday by watching the Cook Islands beat South Africa in a World Cup qualifier.
He returned to full contact training last week but is still on a restricted gym program. Brown is expected to be named for Parramatta who travel to Darwin this week to play Canberra.
"I'm fully back with the boys which is good for my head space," Brown said. "Unless something crazy happens, I should be playing this week.
"Brad (Arthur, coach) has been getting me involved in the video sessions so when I do come back I'm not completely lost. The last couple of weeks I've been there as if I've been playing.
"This year I know (my back) is not going to be 100 per cent. It's going to hurt. At least I know now it's healed enough for me to go out every week confident that I won't injury myself.
"I won't be out for another long period."