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Feature: Tyler ready to tee off

Tyler Brown in action against Freo in JLT 1 - Collingwood Magpies
Tyler Brown in action against Freo in JLT 1

There was no shortage of good news stories in Collingwood's opening JLT Community Series clash with Fremantle.

Jamie Elliott and Darcy Moore performed strongly to suggest they might finally be over their hamstring issues, Dayne Beams' was solid in his first game back at the club, and prized draftee Isaac Quaynor impressed in his first official game at AFL level.

Another first-gamer who remained cool in the sweltering Perth heat was second-year father-son recruit Tyler Brown, whose rapid development has the Pies predicting a long, strong AFL career.

Brown didn't star against the Dockers – in fact he produced a mixed bag in the 27-point win.

In 67 per cent game time, predominantly as an inside midfielder, he had just nine possessions (the second-least for the Pies) and was penalised three times for holding the ball as he tried to create play, but he also had four clearances and kicked a classy goal after a smart blind turn and sidestep.

Most impressive, though, was the way Brown worked in heavy traffic and mixed it physically in close, particularly for a raw, skinny 19-year-old who spent his first season in Collingwood's VFL team away from the clinches at half-back with the occasional run on the wing.

"It was a good experience in my first taste at senior level. The footy was a bit hotter than what I'd played before, so I've just got to get used to that and be clean," Brown told AFL.com.au.

His coaches were pleased with Brown's first hitout and believe he will adapt quickly to AFL level. They were pleased with him beforehand, too.

In a pre-match interview, Magpie coach Nathan Buckley raised a few eyebrows by revealing that Brown boasts traits that remind him of Fremantle superstar Nat Fyfe (who didn't play in the JLT clash due to injury), in that when he reaches his full physical maturation he will be a big, strong midfielder who will be hard to beat both in the air and on the ground.

It turns out Brown has idolised Fyfe, along with other super-size onballers in Carlton's Patrick Cripps, Geelong's Patrick Dangerfield and, of course, Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury.

"Nat Fyfe has been one of my role models, and he's someone I want to play like. I've watched a bit of vision of him because I want to learn from the best and improve my game," said Brown, whose older brother Callum also plays for Collingwood, where their father Gavin is a club great.

The first real sign that the lean runner had taken the next step came via Collingwood list manager Ned Guy. At the club's member forum on November 19 – after the first day of training for the first-to-fourth-year players – Guy enthused that Brown looked a million dollars, adding that the Pies believed that he, like his father before him, "is physically going to explode any tick of the clock" and enhance the club's midfield "really quickly".

Brown senior had also been a skinny teenager but gradually built an impressive physique, and it seems his youngest son has inherited those genes.

When the former Eastern Ranges player – who was overlooked for selection in Vic Metro's squad for the 2017 national under-18 carnival – was drafted with pick 50 in that year's NAB AFL Draft, he was listed at 187cms and 71kgs. He has since grown to 190cms and about 81kgs.

He has added the bulk of those 10kgs this pre-season, by spending more time in the gym, training hard and eating better.

"I'm not sure yet if I'll (develop) like my dad or what my body will transform into, but if you don't work hard it won't happen," said Brown, who also appears to have followed in his father's footsteps in terms of his demeanour, given he is also polite, quietly spoken and modest.

The physical transformation has partly influenced the positional change, which has pleasantly surprised Pies watchers.

Although his brother has always been an inside midfielder, Brown hadn't played that type of role at either TAC Cup or VFL level. The last time he'd done it was for Marcellin College and, before that, Templestowe juniors.

His forecast secondary position is the wing.

"It's another learning experience to see what positions I can play. It's important to be able to play multiple roles," he said.

This versatility might help Brown get a game, given the difficulty of breaking into the Pies' brilliant midfield. But rather than be daunted by that challenge, he sees great benefits.

"I actually see myself as being very lucky to have the opportunity to learn off those guys because they're all such good players," he said.

Given his accelerated progress, Brown has rocketed into calculations for an early-season debut. But there is still much to play out.

"There's some more practice matches left yet so we'll see what happens," he said.

"The aim this year is to play my first game and also build more experience and improve my game. You can't look too far ahead."

The Brown brothers, both contracted to 2020, still live rent-free with their parents and younger sister Tarni, an AFLW hopeful playing for the Eastern Ranges.

The brothers, only 19 months apart, often go to a local oval during the off-season for a run and a kick.

Brown insists there isn't any competition between them in regard to footy, but that changes on the basketball court and during their weekly games of golf.

Asked how well he's been hitting them, he says: "OK. Better than Cal anyway!"