Kevin Brown not surprised by 'thinker' Adrian Lam's success at Wigan Warriors
Watch Warrington Wolves take on Wigan Warriors as the Super League play-off race hots up, live on Sky Sports Arena from 7pm on Friday.
By Marc Bazeley
Last Updated: 15/08/19 6:13am
Kevin Brown is not surprised Adrian Lam is making his mark as a coach, having seen what sets him apart from others firsthand when they were team-mates at Wigan Warriors.
Former Papua New Guinea international Lam did not have the easiest of starts to life in charge of his old club after taking over from Shaun Wane in the off-season, but Wigan have made steady progress since then and are now well-placed to seal a spot in the Super League play-offs.
Warrington Wolves half-back Brown, who will be in the Sky Sports studio for his side's trip to Wigan on Friday night, played alongside Lam as a young professional and believes the 48-year-old's thoughtful approach to rugby league is one of his biggest assets.
Wigan Warriors vs Warrington Wolves
August 16, 2019, 7:00pm
"I always said how smart a player he was and how smart a coach he would be," Brown told Sky Sports. "He was always a thinker - it was his smarts which set him apart from the average player.
"He was tough, he was courageous, but he was so intelligent. I was fortunate enough to play half-back and centre outside of him, and he was always talking to you and always trying to get the best out of people around him rather than just focussing on himself.
"For 15 or 20 years of playing, when he was trying to think of other players as well as himself and put other people through space, and think about the game deeply, I'm sure that's what's made him such a good coach."
"He was always a thinker - it was his smarts which set him apart from the average player."
Kevin Brown on Adrian Lam
While Lam was an inspiration for others around him during his playing days, Brown has seen someone else who is making a similar impression at his current club Warrington - none other than Man of Steel contender Blake Austin.
The half-back had been enjoying an eye-catching first season with the Wolves prior to picking up an injury in the defeat to Catalans Dragons just under two weeks ago, scoring 19 tries in 27 appearances so far in 2019.
Brown, who has been forced to watch from the sidelines this season due to an ACL injury sustained in February, compared the impact Austin has on the squad to that rugby league icon Andy Farrell had on the Wigan team.
"When you get a certain type of player who is that good, sometimes they don't have to do much on the field - even though he has done plenty on the field," Brown said.
"What I mean by that is everyone else raises their game because your confidence levels go through the roof when you look at the side and see someone like that.
"I remember playing with Andrew Farrell at Wigan, and whenever he played in the same team as me I always performed better. I always felt we were going to win and had the confidence, and Blake is similar.
"He's so talented, he's so creative, he scores numerous amounts of tries and sets up a similar number. Just what he does for everyone else is unseen and obviously off the back of what he's doing is plain for everyone to see."
A 36-18 win away to Hull Kingston Rovers last Friday, combined with a 30-12 defeat for Warrington against St Helens the day before, saw Wigan close the gap on the second-placed Wolves to just two points going into Friday's fixture.
Brown was in the stands at the DW Stadium for the win over Rovers, which saw Liam Farrell run in two tries and continue the impressive form he has shown since returning to the side in June after nearly four months out injured.
"They have gone under the radar," Brown said. "The fact Liam Farrell was injured for so long at the start of the season, coupled with the loss of John Bateman, the back row was weaker than they would have liked.
"Now Liam is back, I think you can coincide their recent run of form with his return. I went to watch the game against Hull KR last week, Liam scored two tries and was terrific, so I think he's key for them.
"He's someone we'll have to nullify his threat because he's a fantastic player and he's done it time and time again in these big games."