Mike Brown’s determination to focus on his strengths, rather than worry about shortcomings, are behind his record-breaking appearance tally for Harlequins, according to his attacking coach.
Brown chalked up his 300th game in the famous Quins shirt in Saturday night’s Premiership clash with Saracens, and as well as turning out more times for the club than anyone else before him, he is also the most capped England full-back in history, lest we forget.
He had already eclipsed Nick Easter’s 281 appearances for the club last season.
The 33-year-old looked as sharp and focused as ever – solid as ever under high balls, fearless in contact, and always ready to launch attacks with a mazy run.
He remains very much in the plans of a watching Eddie Jones with the World Cup just a year away.
Quins coach Mark Mapletoft is in no doubt about the reason for Brown’s constancy and longevity in such an unforgiving sport.
“Mike’s always been very good in training and working on the things he’s good at,” he said.
“I think a lot of young kids get told about areas of weakness and they and they end up spending all their time on those and they forget what they are good at. Mike’s never forgotten what he’s good at.
“He’s unbelievable in the air. He’s a great defensive rock at the back, as the last man, in ball presentation and competing for the ball over the floor – these are things that immediately spring to mind. And Mike won’t accept second best.
“Without a doubt that incredible competitive streak is also behind his success. But like every older pro, you learn to look after yourself. You learn when to go really hard and when not to, and when to back off.”
Mapletoft believes his dedication from the word go is a perfect blueprint for any aspiring young player hoping to emulate his achievements.
“It’s a really good message for any youngster – if you look at his journey,” he said.
“I know the landscape of rugby is different now with the academy system, compared to what it was 15 years ago, but Mike was plying his trade in the Under-19s and Under-20s really without much of a profile.
“Through hard work he was able to springboard himself into the second team and first team, international honours and Cambridge Uni’ level and he hasn’t looked back.
“He was a model pro as a kid in terms of practising, working on things – his kicking, his high balls, and that competitive instinct which you see every week on the field.
“He’s very much like that off the field as well. And like anything in life, you reap what you sow.”
Former Quins boss Conor O’Shea said of the 72-cap star: “Mike is always trying to be better. All the time. His competitive nature isn’t centred on others. I think his biggest competitor is himself. He’s constantly trying to beat himself.”