From good to great
Rock solid from start to finish, 2014 will be looked back on as Jesse Bromwich's true break out season, the front-rower's coming of age.
In front of 700 people at Peninsula Docklands Jesse Bromwich addresses the crowd after being crowned Melbourne Storm's Player of the Year for 2014. In his understated fashion, Bromwich thanks his family, teammates, coaches and the loyal members and fans in the room.
The front-rower acknowledges everyone but himself.
That's what Bromwich does. It's not about him, it never has been. On the field not a truer word could be spoken about the 25-year old. Whether it's a deft offload, strong supporting run or muscling up in defence, quite simply, Jesse Bromwich lets his football do the talking and his teammates walk taller because of it.
Season 2014 was the year Jesse Bromwich went from good to great.
Missing just one game for the season (his first since 2012), the New Zealand international was a pillar of consistency in Storm's roller coaster like year, becoming the first player to progress through the Club's U20 system and win the coveted Player of the Year honour.
Leading the Club in a number of statistical categories for the season including runs made and offloads, Bromwich’s reliable ball security coupled with his brute strength continually caused havoc for opposition defences in turn providing Melbourne with a cutting edge in attack. After an already impressive season, Bromwich's Round 23 performance against Cronulla turned heads across the league, earning rave reviews. The competition wide recognition continued at the NRL's season ending 2014 Dally M awards where he was nominated for Prop of the Year.
With his game rising to another level in his fifth year of first-grade football, Bromwich's influence became increasingly important for Craig Bellamy's outfit as he lead a youthful forward pack.
Bellamy's assessment of his front-rower's season indicates the quality of output and improvement that came from Bromwich in 2014.
"He was our most consistent player all season, his year, especially for someone in his position, was outstanding," Bellamy said.
"He's developed into if not the best, one of the best front-rowers in the game.
"It is a great achievement to make such an improvement as he did."
That improvement has seen the skilled prop become not just a leader and crucial cog at Club level but now one of Stephen Kearney's go-to men for New Zealand in the international arena.
Playing for the Kiwis in May's ANZAC Test, Bromwich's opening try was symbolic of his year. Club teammates Billy Slater and Cameron Smith, revered for their defensive qualities over their careers, were unable to stop their counterpart from crossing the try line.
It was a sign of things to come, however for the rest of the season it would be Smith, Slater and company who would benefit from their 114 kilogram forward steamrolling through the opposition. Not many people managed to stop Jesse Bromwich in 2014.
An element of luck landed Bromwich in Melbourne. With Jesse living and playing in country New South Wales for the Orange Hawks the rest of the Bromwich family were based in Melbourne. Younger brother Kenny was contracted and playing for Storm's U20 Thunderbolts and it was his recommendation of his older brother that landed the now 100-game forward in the big smoke.
Just like that, through the convincing words of his younger brother, Jesse Bromwich became a Melbourne Storm player.
In Round 5, 2013 Kenny Bromwich made his first-grade debut three years after Jesse. They became the third set of brothers to play for Melbourne Storm and the first to take the field together in the same match. A year later they continue to break records becoming the first siblings to reach 100 games combined for the Club.
Impressing early, Bromwich made the most of his opportunity thanks to brother Kenny. From there it was onwards and upwards, there was no looking back.
Not taking long to make an impact, the Manurewa Marlins junior played a prominent role in the Club's historic U20 Premiership victory in 2009. He was one of 10 players in the Grand Final side to go on and taste first-grade football at the top flight with Melbourne.
Three seasons later, Bromwich alongside Justin O'Neill, Kevin Proctor and Gareth Widdop joined an even more elite group. The quartet converted their U20 triumph into the ultimate success on rugby league's greatest day in front of 82,976 people at ANZ Stadium. A 14-4 victory over a battle hardened Canterbury-Bankstown side was the ultimate reward.
After the game Bromwich celebrated alongside great mate and fellow New Zealander Kevin Proctor. Just like in 2009, Bromwich, Proctor, O'Neill nor Widdop could wipe the smiles off their face.
From a lean, fledgling forward Bromwich has developed and grown into a powerhouse. He is rugby league's modern day prototype and widely regarded as one of the competition's premier props with not only the physical ability but also the tactical nous. Earlier this year Bromwich committed to Storm for a further four seasons, securing his future in Melbourne with the Club. He, along with Proctor and the Club's other emerging stars will be charged with taking Storm to the next level.
2015 will bring a new set of challenges for Bromwich as he strives to maintain the high standard he has set for himself over the past year. Although you can count on one thing, Melbourne Storm's 2014 Player of the Year will not be resting on his laurels and by no means will he settle for 'great'.