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Origin-winning coach takes out Ned Australian Whisky award for July

After a lengthy and successful career as a player with England in wheelchair rugby league, Jack Brown said it was “really special” to coach Queensland to two historic Wheelchair State of Origin titles.

Brown has played 28 times for England in three World Cups. He’s won one World Cup, in 2008, and the only European Championship.

Under Brown’s tutelage, Queensland beat NSW 49-24 in July in Townsville, backing up their 50-30 win in the 2021 title, which was played in January in Sydney after being postponed from last year due to COVID-19.

Brown, who has been named the Queensland Rugby League's Ned Australian Whisky Community Coach for the month of July, played for many years in England before moving to Australia two years ago.

Jack Brown, far left, celebrating with the Queensland team after they claimed the 2022 Wheelchair State of Origin title. Photo: Scott Radford-Chisholm/QRL
Jack Brown, far left, celebrating with the Queensland team after they claimed the 2022 Wheelchair State of Origin title. Photo: Scott Radford-Chisholm/QRL

“Due to the eligibility criteria obviously I wasn’t able to play for Queensland, being a Pom, even though it is something I’d love to be able to do,” Brown said.

“I put myself forward as head coach and managed to get the job and I’ve done that for two years.

“The Queensland side had lost seven times to NSW before that, and quite convincingly to be fair.

“My first year as coach we won, and we have just won for the second year in a row.

“I have been playing since the sport began in 2005 in England. I started playing with my brother, who now plays basketball professionally.

“The game was founded in France but once it reached England me and Harry, my brother, were on the first team.”

Harry now plays basketball in Spain professionally and Jack continued on with his wheelchair rugby league career as an able-bodied player.

Brown was the right man at the right time for Queensland when it came to the coaching role, bringing structure and new ideas to the job which proved beneficial.

“I didn’t move over here to coach. I came over here for lifestyle,” Brown said.

“In England I was a player/coach for Halifax and captain of England, so I’d been in a leadership role prior to moving here.

“The coaching role just fitted perfectly and I have had the opportunity to teach things in Australia that haven’t been taught before, things that we have been doing in England only because we have been playing a little bit longer.”

The plan when Brown took over was to try and get a win inside three years. The team blew that goal out of the water.

The results speak for themselves and Brown said the players were "brilliant” in the way they bought into his methodology.

Jack and his wife Jade, who is the team manager.
Jack and his wife Jade, who is the team manager.

“The Queensland side received plenty of help. We asked Wheelchair Rugby League Australia for camps and we put in a selection process,” Brown said.

“We had strength and conditioning applications put in behind the scenes.

“It’s not as though I just turned up and told them how to play good rugby league. It was more about implementing more of a professional setup. After putting in time at training and a bit of structure here and there, we gelled into a really good team.

“Me and my wife are massive Maroons fans so being able to lift the shield with the players was pretty special, and I ended up doing it twice.”

Brown loves being a part of a sport that is so inclusive.

“It is a five-a-side with two able-bodied players and three disabled players. It really opens things up so that parents can play with their kids right up to World Cup level,” he said.

“We have father-son combinations in the Australian side now.”

Brown and his teammates prefer wheelchair footy to 13-a-side on a standard footy field.

“I am biased but if you watch our sport you realise it is faster than the running game,” Brown said.

“You wouldn’t think so being in wheelchairs but the play the ball tempo is a lot quicker. Having five players it is a lot more flowing. We’ve done away with scrums. The game is really fast, high energy and high impact. It is fun to watch and even more fun to play.”

Brown said the added bonus was “anyone can play” and had a challenge for Maroons legend Johnathan Thurston.

“JT, when he retired, could have jumped in a wheelchair and set off on his wheelchair career. And that is an open invitation,” Brown grinned.

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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