Six Nations: England full-back aiming to hang on to 15 jersey with World Cup looming
Mike Brown talks to Sky Sports about England's Six Nations heartache last year, competition for places moving forward and how he's "desperate" to play in a World Cup...
Last Updated: 30/01/14 5:22pm
Given the chance to play in his preferred full-back position, the 28-year-old did not let national boss Stuart Lancaster down in the autumn fixtures against Australia, Argentina and New Zealand.
However, despite his impressive displays, including being named man of the match in the victory over the Wallabies, the Harlequins player knows he cannot afford to relax.
The competition for the No.15 shirt is fierce, with Northampton's Ben Foden and Alex Goode of Saracens also in the England Elite Player Squad earlier in January.
Yet Brown, who made his international debut back in 2007 but at one stage spent four years in the international wilderness before his recall in 2012, is determined to retain his grip on a jersey he has waited a long time to acquire.
"I'm extremely excited to get back into camp with the England boys and start preparing for this tough Six Nations," he told Sky Sports.
"Personally, it was good to finally get the No.15 jersey on home soil against those top teams (during the autumn) and show what I can do. But it's just three games.
"Now, if given the opportunity again, I need to show I have the consistency at the top level.
"Ever since the squad was sort of formed a couple of years ago, the full-back jersey has been massively competitive. The likes of Ben Foden and Alex Goode (are there), then there are also guys below in the Saxons.
"There's a lot of competition there. We know if we get the opportunity in the shirt it's about proving your worth and showing what we can do
"I managed to do that in the QBE Internationals, but it's not my shirt. Now it's for me to keep working hard and proving that I still deserve it."
It seems certain Brown will start in his favoured role for the upcoming Six Nations, having played the entirety of last year's tournament out on the wing, a position he hadn't experienced since representing England at junior level.
"I haven't played much on the wing, but it was a great confidence booster from Stuart to put me in that role when I hadn't played there much," he said.
"It showed that he wanted to get me on the field. I think I did a reasonable job, but I was obviously really keen to play full-back. I managed to get to do that, and showed what I can do there as well."
It seemed the Quins man could be part of a grand-slam winning team, only for Wales to scupper those hopes in spectacular fashion. Not only did the 30-3 defeat in Cardiff deny Lancaster's troops a clean sweep, it also saw them miss out on the title.
"The last couple of Six Nations we've failed at the final hurdle, we've not come away with what we wanted to achieve," Brown admitted. "Hopefully we can learn and change that to the right result this time.
"We were massively disappointed with that result (in Wales). The first half was quite close, but the second half they were brilliant. They did a job on us.
"We are on a journey in this squad - part of that journey is about winning things like the Six Nations. That will be a massive confidence booster. You can learn so much from winning competitions. It would be great for our journey towards the 2015 World Cup."
That World Cup looms large on the horizon, even if there are still plenty of games to go - including a series away against the All Blacks this summer - before then; England will be the hosts for the first time since 1991, when they shared duties with their Five Nations rivals at that time.
Brown wasn't involved in 2011 and so is "desperate" to feature this time around, particularly with it taking place on home soil.
"I'm desperate to play in a World Cup. I haven't yet managed to do that," said the long-time Quin who came through the capital club's academy system.
"To have it in your home country, there's no other betting thing than that in sport. I'm desperate to not just play, not just make up the numbers, but to push on and try and win it.
"But we are still quite a way off. We will just try as a squad take each game as it comes and try and get the right result in each of them."
That next game is away in Paris, as the Six Nations starts against France on February 1. It is the latest step on the journey that Brown talks about, and the next chance for the man himself to show he's the right man to be England's last line of defence.
Get the latest behind-the-scenes news from Mike Brown and his England teammates with the upcoming fifth season of O2 Inside Line, the weekly show from O2 - proud partner of England Rugby - and the RFU www.O2InsideLine.com