Nathan Brown has shot down rumours of a rift with Parramatta coach Brad Arthur after his recall to first grade for the NRL grand final against Penrith.
Having not played first grade since round 17 and told he can look elsewhere for next year, Brown was the biggest selection shock of grand final week after being named on the Eels' bench by Arthur.
His continued omission from the first grade squad has raised eyebrows all season after Brown made his State of Origin debut for NSW in 2020.
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Speaking out on Thursday, the Eels enforcer dismissed any notion that his absence from first grade has anything to do with bad blood between himself and Arthur.
“We’re on talking terms. All that stuff that has been said about us is rubbish. We’re all good and on talking terms.
"We both know we have a job to do come this Sunday. I hear some things being said, but I try not to listen to all that media talk.
“In the back of your mind, you’re worried that other people might believe the rumours. I don’t think they did though, to be honest.
"Everyone knows I wouldn’t be like that. They know that I will do what’s best for the team and the club.”
Brown's selection for the grand final is aimed at getting the back-rower to ruffle the feathers of Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary.
Arthur revealed on Thursday that Brown would be given limited minutes either side of half-time, giving him every opportunity to wreak havoc.
"We want him to be aggressive," Arthur said.
"But we have to be smart about it. We can't afford to give them cheap possession attacking on our try line because they turn it into points.
"He can come on and bring a bit of energy for us, work really hard defensively. He will generate some line speed.
"He needs to be smart with his aggression, but we're looking forward to having nice energy off the bench."
Parramatta to target Nathan Cleary in NRL grand final
Parramatta are desperate to find a way to get to Cleary's kicking game after failing to do so in their week-one finals loss - and want to ensure the Penrith halfback has limited time with the ball.
Arthur stressed at Thursday's grand final press conference that controlling Cleary would not be a one-man job.
But he also made clear the importance of early-set line speed, something that will be crucial in containing Penrith's back-three yardage and winning the territorial battle.
Cleary tore the Eels apart in the opening week of the finals, able to stand deep in the pocket to kick as Penrith won the yardage battle and claimed quick play-the-balls.
"It's got to be the whole team," Arthur said.
"It would be silly to send one person out at him, he will just pull you apart with his pass. We can do our best to stop him.
"We have to make sure if we make an error off one of those kicks or the ball bounces, that we have plenty of people around the footy.
"It's more about our defence and our defence at the start of sets to try and try to limit where he can get the ball to get those good kicks in."
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