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A couple of months back, at the start of the NRL season, Lewis Brown's role in the Warriors was debatable.

It still is, although now it's more about where he fits into the team rather than whether he should be included.

It's sign of the enormous progress Brown has made - from club player to essential selection.

Yet Brown still faces stern competition to maintain his first team place. Presuming Micheal Luck is always first choice at lock and captain Simon Mannering will always be fitted into the centres or second-row, Brown is up against Feleti Mateo, Shaun Berrigan, Ben Matulino, Elijah Taylor, Ukuma Ta'ai and Steve Rapira to get game time.

Yet he has played the full 80 minutes every match (four times in the second row, three times at centre) since the second round. Added to that was 50 minutes off the interchange bench in his debut for the Kiwis last weekend on the Gold Coast.

Renowned for his line break assists - Brown was second to Lance Hohaia for the Warriors last year - he produced exactly that last week against the Kangaroos.

After six minutes on the field, Brown conjured up a try for fellow debutant Matt Duffie just before the end of the first half by making a break, fending off the hulking Sam Thaiday, drawing fullback Billy Slater and delivering a precise final pass.

Brown lines up again at centre against Newcastle today - supposedly a weak spot for the team after injuries but where Brown has typically made a good fist of things.

The Warriors are looking to march further into the top eight after winning five of their last six matches.

The team enjoyed a rare road trip down Australia's east coast over the course of the week as part of a bonding exercise which will ideally have the team in good spirits entering the heart of the season.

Brown (24) goes by the nickname "Sharky" which has become as much about the shape of his game as the shape of his face. It is not so much about his size.

At 1.79m and 97 kg (and even that might be dripping wet) he is not exactly Jaws. However, being one of the smaller second-rowers in the game - think more Nathan Hindmarsh than Thaiday - has not blunted his hunger to run and tackle.

That hunger was been born of this club being his last chance to make it in the NRL. Brown arrived at the Warriors on a buying whim (match payments only) and debuted in first grade midway through 2009.

As a hooker, he had played Jersey-Flegg football for the Sydney Roosters when he moved from his home city of Christchurch as a 17-year-old. He moved via feeder club Balmain Ryde to the Wests Tigers but never got beyond New South Wales Cup level with Robbie Farah and John Morris ahead of him.

"At the Tigers I didn't really get a shot because I wasn't in the greatest shape," Brown says. "You can blame anyone you like but the only real person to blame is yourself. At that time I didn't have the best training attitude and coming back to the Warriors was the last shot at my dream. I put everything into it, got my call up and haven't looked back.

"In Sydney I just realised that dream was slipping away. I'm not one to give up on things easy so I got myself into shape and worked hard with the Warriors' high performance people.

" I'm probably in the positions I'm most suited to, mixing between the back row and the centres [rather than hooker]. Being a utility adds strength to my game and I probably wouldn't have made my Kiwis debut otherwise."

Warriors coach Ivan Cleary decided Brown needed to make the transition to back rower on arrival, triggering his rise.

"It was just the way he ran the ball and the lines he ran. He's built low to the ground but his frame is quite conducive to taking punishment. It was a hunch but I'm happy with how it turned out.

"He listens to everything. If I want him to work on something it always gets done.

"Ideally he would be used as a bench player because, when he takes the field, he's busy. He has an immediate impact but he's playing well enough at the moment to command a starting spot. He'd be a hard man to leave out of the 17."