It’s a new year but the target for Mike Brown and England remains the same – become the world’s number one ranked team.
The Harlequins full-back admits last year’s unbeaten calendar year, which saw England grab a Grand Slam and a 3-0 whitewash of Australia in their own back yard, counts for little now.
The countdown is on until England begin their defence of the 6 Nations against France at Twickenham on February 4.
England arrive having racked up 14 straight victories, 13 under new boss Eddie Jones but Brown insists his no-nonsense Aussie coach won’t allow his men to take their foot off the gas.
“We are using the last year as a stepping stone to be number one in the world,” said Brown, speaking on behalf of Land Rover, the long term supporter of rugby at all levels, from grassroots to the elite.
“We have moved on from last year and very much looking forward to starting again against France, that’s all we are focusing on.
“I’m massively looking forward to getting back into camp, everyone loves camp at the moment and working with England.
“The environment is very enjoyable and challenging, everyone is loving coming to work and working hard for each other.
“We are enjoying being challenged, the coaches are working us hard to be the best players they can be to achieve our collective goal, it’s a great environment to be involved in.
“It’s massively exciting to look around the squad, the talent in the squad pushing from outside everyone wants to be part of it.”
Despite his 55 England caps, Brown is constantly under pressure for his place from the likes of Saracens full-back Alex Goode, who continues to impress with the reigning Premiership and European Champions, as well as Bath’s Anthony Watson and Wasp utility man Elliott Daly.
And while Harlequins have had another up-and-down season, Brown revealed his work with England legend and World Cup winner Jonny Wilkinson is helping him developing into a more all-round player.
“It’s been tough going with Quins in some games but I am enjoying getting involved more, I am helping our young ten by kicking for position more so I’m working hard on and off the field,” he added.
“It’s massively important if I want to be one of the top players in the world and achieve things for England. I need to push myself.
“I’ve been working with Jonny (Wilkinson) for a number of months on kicking and skills. I am stepping up to ten and kicking for territory I am also running off nine and my stats are looking good. I am involved all over the field.
“It’s unbelievable to work with him and he’s doing it for free and does not want anything in return. I’m very lucky to have him to talk to off the field especially when things have not gone too well recently to keep motivated.”
Pundits, ex-players and spectators are gearing up for an extra special Championship in the coming weeks with the Lions tour to New Zealand looming large on the horizon.
Just a few months after the conclusion of the 6 Nations, head coach Warren Gatland will lead his Lions on his second tour looking to repeat his historic victory over Australia back in 2013.
Leigh Halfpenny, Stuart Hogg and Rob Kearney were selected ahead of Brown back in 2013 but the 31-year-old still hopes to earn selection this time around, and thinks the tour will add an extra spice to the 6 Nations.
“It may add extra to everyone watching and in the media but every player will tell you they are fully concentrating on their job and ignoring outside influences and what’s being talked about,” Brown said.
“I am not going to lie and say it has not crossed my mind, I grew up as a rugby fan I have always loved watching the Lions.
“I know the traditions and the history and to put on the red jersey that’s at the back of my mind.
“You don’t think about it when you are playing I’ll continue to work hard, continue to do everything I can hopefully that will get me selected for England and everything else will look after itself.”
“You can’t think about what Warren Gatland is thinking all you can control is what you are doing to get selected for England.”
Mike Brown is a Land Rover ambassador. Land Rover continues to champion grassroots rugby through its We Deal In Real campaign. @LandRoverRugby #WeDealInReal