Brown ready to battle for his place
Harlequins full-back Mike Brown came through a baptism of fire with England and now insists nothing will faze him as he targets a starting role for his country in the RBS 6 Nations.
Brown was recalled to the senior England squad for the first time in over three years this week as part of Stuart Lancaster's red rose revolution. Ben Foden is England's incumbent full-back but Brown is gunning for his jersey and thrilled by the prospect of playing in a competition he has watched since he was seven.
But it has not been a simple journey for the 25-year-old, who told Press Association Sport: "I have no reason to be worried about any other teams now because I have played against two of the best in the world."
Brown won his first two caps against South Africa in 2007, when a third-string squad England received back-to-back hammerings from the Springboks, months before they were crowned world champions.
A year later, Brown won his third cap against the All Blacks in Auckland and subsequent off-field incidents left him questioning whether he even wanted an international future.
But Brown was not willing to let go of his dream. He set about improving both his game and his reputation, with the help of sprint coach Margot Wells and Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea.
"I am a completely different player from when I played against South Africa and New Zealand," Brown added. "They are two of the best teams in the world and I have had to learn a lot of lessons from that."
Brown recalls one double-tackle from Schalk Burger and Jean de Villiers as the moment he realised exactly what it would require to make it in Test match rugby.
"It has been a long time. I have had to work really hard over the last three years on my game. I can't wait to get started with England," Brown said. "My attacking game has completely changed since I was last in the England squad.
"Margot has helped me out massively. Conor coming in has worked on my decision-making and positional play. I think that has really helped me on the pitch."