NEW Penrith Panthers backrower Lewis Brown loves getting out among the National Rugby League’s most loyal fans.
Because, not that long ago, he was one of them.
“I remember when I was a kid back in Christchurch in New Zealand ... we had sportsmen talk to us and it was always a big thing,” Brown said.
“I’m pleased I can come and put a smile on kids faces and teach them about bullying and hopefully get the message across.
“I love it.”
The Penrith Panthers were scattered across the Central West yesterday on the club’s Community Carnival, using the chance to talk to primary school kids about the negative impact bullying can have on other people.
The school visits were in the lead up to the Panthers’ trial against the Wests Tigers in Bathurst last night.
Joining Brown at St Mary’s Primary School was fellow new recruit More Masoe and hard hitting veteran Nigel Plum.
All three sat out of the trial, with both clubs using the match as a chance to trial the squad’s second-tier players.
Brown, a former New Zealand Warrior, will enjoy a baptism of fire in his first game in Panthers colours next weekend when he takes on his old club in a trial game back across the ditch at Wellington, New Zealand.
Brown admits it’ll be “weird” to play against the club he made a grand final with in 2011 but was looking forward to having a big season at the foot of the mountains.
“It’s always a bit of a challenge moving from a new club and to a new country,” he said.
“I’ve been at the Panthers now three months and I’m really enjoying it. I like what I’ve seen so far and it’s really good to be back under Ivan Cleary again. I played under him at the Warriors and he got the best out of me as a player. I like the way he coaches.
“As for the boys, they’re all a bunch of humble, hard working blokes and I believe what we’ve got at the club is enough to get us a premiership, hopefully this year if not, in the next couple of years.”
Along with cracking Penrith’s starting 13 and earning another New Zealand test cap, Brown is hoping to make a mark with the Panthers in 2013.
“Probably just gain the respect of my new teammates,” Brown said.
“That’s always a big thing when you go to a new club, around a new environment, you want to be a player everyone wants to play with.”