Kangaroos coach Rhyce Shaw politely side-stepped questions about Brown’s future on Saturday, preferring to focus on his injury.
“We are not going to discuss any of those matters at this point in time because Ben’s really important for us. We want to get him back on the park as quickly as we can,” Shaw said.
“He is a valuable player and we will assess his knee as we get going and, hopefully, he can get back as soon as he can.”
The Roos and Brown’s management had been well into negotiations before COVID-19 struck. Brown had wanted a four-year deal reportedly for between $700,000 and $800,000 a season but the Roos had offered three seasons.
Shaw said Brown was confident he would be available for selection again before the season was done.
“I don’t see why not. He seems pretty confident with that. We will keep assessing him over the next period of time, especially leading up to the Brissie game. We are really confident we will see him again shortly,” he said.
The Kangaroos have made three changes for the clash against the Demons, Lachie Hosie and Will Walker joining Brown on the sidelines. Nick Larkey and Luke Davies-Uniacke return while Sam Durdin will play his first match of the year.
This will be Jamie Macmillan’s last game for a while as he will head back to Victoria for the birth of he and wife Olivia’s first child. Shaw said he was unsure if Macmillan would return.
The Kangaroos have only three wins but they head into this clash more than hopeful for a fourth in the knowledge the Demons have lost Max Gawn (back-shoulder) and Jack Viney (concussion). Gawn’s absence should allow counterpart Todd Goldstein to have a greater influence in the ruck and around the ground, as he will have Rising Star nominee Luke Jackson as his opponent.
“Goldy is going well. He has been playing some really good footy. It would have been an unbelievable match up to see those two go head-to-head again but it’s not to be. Hopefully, we can get an advantage with Goldy in the ruck,” Shaw said.
The Roos will look to Jy Simpkin, who had 25 disposals and eight clearances in the loss to Geelong on Wednesday, and veteran Shaun Higgins, averaging almost 22 touches per game, to continue their strong form.
Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.