Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup: Harry Brown 'proud' of brother Jack's impact on game

By Elizabeth HudsonBBC Sport
Harry Brown goes for the basket against Spain
Harry Brown is one of the key figures for the GB men's wheelchair basketball team
Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup 2021 Final - England v France
Venue: Manchester Central Date: Friday, 18 November Time: 19:30 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer and online; Live commentary on Sports Extra; Live text and highlights on BBC Sport website & app

Great Britain wheelchair basketball star Harry Brown says he is proud of the impact made by his brother Jack at the Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup.

The siblings helped England to World Cup victory in 2008 before Harry focused on his basketball career.

Jack has been one of the stars in England's journey to Friday's final, where they will face holders France.

"Seeing him carry on and actually doing a sport that I'm no longer doing, it makes me proud," Harry told BBC Sport.

"He's not doing it just to play with me. You can actually see that he really enjoys doing a sport that, yes is in a wheelchair but you don't have to be a wheelchair user to play.

"The fact that he is doing it at such a high level and has been since he started playing, there's no-one who has touched him."

Harry, now 28, had his legs amputated above the knee after contracting meningitis as a baby and first started playing wheelchair basketball before Jack, four years his senior, was encouraged to have a go.

But while wheelchair basketball does not have a pathway for non-disabled players, wheelchair rugby league, which came to Britain in the mid-2000s, enables disabled and non-disabled participants to play together at all levels, giving the brothers a chance to represent England together internationally and be part of something special.

"I've been in a wheelchair since I was two years old so Jack has been around wheelchairs forever," says Harry, who has won two Paralympic bronze medals as well as European and world titles and now plays professionally in Albacete, Spain.

"It was a weird one growing up because Jack could push a wheelchair better than he could run. In a way wheelchair sport suited him better. Jack running with a rugby ball just looks weird to watch.

"He knows the ins and outs of how wheelchairs work and would fix my wheelchair from time to time.

"I think that took away the barrier, he was not an able-bodied person getting in a wheelchair, he is a wheelchair user even without being disabled."

As well as being an England stalwart since his debut in 2005, Jack also won the inaugural wheelchair rugby league international player-of-the-year awards and was also shortlisted for this year's Golden Boot honour, won by England team-mate Seb Bechara.

He moved from the Halifax Panthers to Australia a couple of years ago and has been coaching the Queensland side but returned to the England squad for this World Cup and has won two player-of-the-match awards in his side's four games.

His eight tries against Wales helped England set up an eagerly-anticipated meeting with the French - who beat England in the last two World Cup finals.

And Harry is delighted at the way the sport has captured the public's imagination over the last two weeks.

"Back in 2008 when we won the World Cup, there was a guy with a camera phone greeting us at the airport and that was the best we got," he recalls.

"So seeing the coverage the sport is getting and all the views, people are actually coming to watch.

"I don't think I've ever played a wheelchair rugby league game with more than 100 people watching. So seeing a picture of over 3,000 people watching the pool games in the Copper Box, it was just immense."

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