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Brown happy stay at centre for Eels

Dylan Brown is preparing to play in Parramatta’s centres for as long as required as the Eels search for answers to their significant backline shortage.

Brown is every chance of spending a second straight week at left centre on Saturday night against North Queensland, after impressing there in the flogging of Newcastle on Sunday.

The Eels’ ridiculous injury toll includes five members of their back seven being sidelined, with Tom Opacic the only one considered any chance to play this week.

Marata Niukore and Ray Stone’s injuries have also added to the problem, with Parramatta unwilling to shift the likes of Ryan Matterson or Bryce Cartwright wide given they are required in the middle.

Brown had never played centre in any football before this year, having grown up as a half in rugby union in New Zealand and playing five-eighth at the Eels.

But Parramatta’s long-term planning prompted him to spend 40 minutes there in a trial against Penrith to get Jake Arthur into the game, while he also filled in there against Gold Coast earlier this month.

“It was lucky we did it in the trial, because look what happened,” Brown said.

“Brad obviously has a plan as a coach, and when you think about it, I work for Brad so whatever he says goes and I’m happy to do that.

“I’m not sure who’s back when but if I need to keep playing centre, I’m happy to do so.”

Opacic had been considered some chance to take on the Knights at left centre, but there is every chance the Eels will hold him back another round rather than flying him to Darwin and back.

Sean Russell is also a chance of returning from his punctured lung and fractured rib shortly, but will likely come back through reserve grade.

Otherwise Maika Sivo and Waqa Blake are both longer-term prospects, while Haze Dunster was ruled out for the season in the trials.

Flyer Matthew Komolafe has scored nine tries for Parramatta in his first four senior games in the NSW Cup, but is unlikely to be rushed into first grade from outside the Eels’ 30-man NRL squad.

Regardless though, Brown is beginning to feel more comfortable with defensive decisions one in from the wing as the Eels weren’t broken down that edge.

Brown also made six tackle busts and broke the line once as he scored a try down that side.

“Footy is footy,” Brown said.

“Probably the hardest part is defence, knowing when to jam and when not to jam.

“But it’s good to learn different positions, because you just never know (when you’ll be needed).”

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