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'I have the down moments, the uncertainty, the financial pressure'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Former England full-back Mike Brown has spoken about his struggle transitioning from being a high-profile rugby player to life after rugby. The 37-year-old is currently in career limbo following his release at the end of last season from Newcastle Falcons, the club he joined in 2o21 following a stellar stint at Harlequins.

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With the recruitment market in England restricted by the reduced Gallagher Premiership salary cap and a number of clubs in financial turmoil, Brown has been unable to nail down a deal that would allow him to continue playing. Speculation of a switch to France has also died down, leaving him at a loose end with the 2022/23 club season now in full flow.

“I knew how hard it would be with how much I love rugby, I’ve been playing since the age of five and been professional since I was 18 so it’s going to be tough,” said Brown when talking to 2003 World Cup winner Lawrence Dallaglio, the host of the Evening Standard Rugby Podcast in partnership with Fuller’s London Pride.

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“So I have made sure that I have really planned out my day, making sure that I am focussing on my transition, not just hanging on and hoping that something comes with that last paycheque. I have put things in place but I still have ups and downs.

“I’m up I am excited about how broad things are and the opportunities that are out there but then I have the down moments where I am not getting much back, not sure where it is going, the uncertainty, the financial pressure, all those sorts of things, so it is very much up and down.”

Brown spent just a single season at Newcastle under the director of rugby Dean Richards, who has been succeeded in that role by head coach Dave Walder. The Falcons have lost their opening two matches in the new Premiership season and Brown fears that not enough changes happened during the off-season to ensure the club will perform better this term.

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“Newcastle are hopeful every year and then they fall away. I don’t think there is enough change with new people coming in to make it significant, that’s the problem. You have got people in there who have just moved up and it’s the same for me. They will try but when the pressure comes on now they have lost a couple.

“We found this last season when I was there, we started well but then we had a bad loss against Leicester and more losses and then the pressure comes on and you know what happens with more pressure you resort back to type and old habits come in.

“I have not been there pre-season so I’m hoping they have lifted the standard of the sessions and that the tempo is higher and they can start building on something. You want ambition as a player but if you don’t have a shared vision of what you are striving for then why are you there, why are you working so hard week in week out, day in, day out, basically getting your head kicked in on the weekend, what’s the point?”

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