South Sydney coach Michael Maguire has had a quiet word to under-fire prop Nathan Brown to clean up his game, but insists his aggressive charge is no thug.
Brown has been dubbed the NRL’s dirtiest player in the wake of two unsavoury incidents in his past two games, first stomping on Gold Coast forward Agnatius Paasi’s groin and then hitting Mitchell Moses late after the Wests Tigers playmaker was kicking.
He received a warning from the NRL for the stomp and then escaped suspension after pleading guilty to grade-one dangerous contact on Moses.
Maguire admits the rugged front-rower is sailing close to the wind and wants no repeat offences in Friday night’s clash with Parramatta at ANZ Stadium.
“Nathan understands what he needs to do in his game. He’s been pushing the boundaries fairly closely there, but it’s definitely not him,” the coach said.
“He’s a player who has to look at his discipline around certain areas and, if he fixes that up, he’s already providing a lot of great things for us, and he’ll only improve.”
Souths will be without State of Origin pair Greg Inglis and Adam Reynolds, but Maguire is confident Luke Keary and Cody Walker can help reignite the Rabbitohs’ finals hopes after being reunited in the halves for the first time since round six.
Keary finally gets another starting opportunity after coming off the bench for more than a month, while Walker has proven a shining light at fullback for the past three weeks.
Maguire, though, has no concerns they’ll slot straight back into the playmaking hot seats as tryscoring winger Alex Johnston moves to fullback and Aaron Gray and Siosifa Talakai also find spots in the new-look backline.
“I reckon they’ll be great. I’m very excited,” Maguire said.
“Unfortunately last week we weren’t able to have Luke Keary (due to injury) and he’s been providing a lot of energy around the team, which has been excellent.
“Having those boys back together, they’ve had some experiences together, so they basically fit straight in there for Adam and Greg.
“Alex Johnston at fullback, it’s something he really enjoys and he has shown some really good form there when he’s been there, so I don’t think Walker shifting to six will affect the flow of the team at all.”