With Mike Brown among those shortlisted for Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Season, I thought I would take this opportunity to reflect on his rise through the ranks as a young and somewhat unnoticed player, to a living legend within the world of rugby.
He was the star of the Six Nations. Fleet of foot, terrific in the tackles, a safe pair of hands and Mr Dependable. And thatâ€™s without mentioning the firecracker flair!
But itâ€™s good to know the mighty Mike Brown hasnâ€™t forgotten his roots.
When we look at this seasonâ€™s success, you might wonder where it all started.
Well, I heard him on the radio recently, chatting about where it all began and how much he owes a number of clubs for helping him when he was young. He started playing for the colts at Salisbury RFC â€“ the proving ground for two other England internationals who share the same name: Richard Hill the flanker and Richard Hill the scrum-half.
It was encouraging to hear the current crop of young talent being nurtured in the Wiltshire city, talking about how Mike Brown is inspiring them and how a number are already representing England at junior level. They have been keeping a close eye on this seasonâ€™s international sensation – proof today of what could be in store for them – tomorrow.
Just down the road at Melksham RFC, coaches are using Mr Brown to inspire and encourage in a different way; because when he was there as a teenager, he never did manage to attract the attention of regional selectors; Which is why Melkshamâ€™s up and coming players are being told that making it to the top is a not a vertical rise. However pulling on the clubâ€™s shirt at colt and first team level, knowing someone like Mike Brown has gone before them to play for England, is quite a motivator!
Mr Brown himself still clearly appreciates the help and support the club gave him in his teens and itâ€™s good to know heâ€™s primed to return to open their new clubhouse.
The star of the moment – remembering those whoâ€™ve helped him on his journey.
And look where he is now. A player with such composure and tenacity. A player who is a complete Mr Reliable.
We have all come to know and love this Harlequinsâ€™ hero.
All the best for the Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Season, Mr Brown and thank you for all those memorable moments!
*The other nominees are Dan Braid – Sale Sharks, Vereniki Goneva – Leicester Tigers, Samu Manoa – Northampton Saints and Chris Pennell – Worcester Warriors
By Rhiannon Chandler-Day (@RhiannonCDay)
To see more from Rhiannon, please check out her rugby blog at: rhiannonsrugbyunionblog.blogspot.co.ukrhiannonsrugbyunionblog.blogspot.co.uk