Captain Bromwich full of pride
Recently appointed Kiwis skipper Jesse Bromwich described the moment he found out about his new title as "easily one of the proudest moments of my career, not only for me but for my family as well."
It's an incredible achievement for a man who has his family to thank for introducing him to the world of professional rugby league.
Bromwich was only signed by the Melbourne Storm at the start of the 2009 season after his younger brother Kenny – already a member of the club's NYC side – told one of the coaches that he had a brother who was better than him at rugby league.
It's a moment that kick-started a career that now has many people labelling him the best front-rower in the game.
The Storm forward won the under 20s competition that year and was named in the NYC Team of the Year as well.
From there, Bromwich has gone on to play 141 games for the Storm – twice winning the club's prestigious Player of the Year award – and has represented the Kiwis 17 times since debuting in 2012.
He is averaging over 150 metres a game in 2016 and leads the NRL with 27 offloads through the opening nine rounds; statistics that justify his billing as the best big man in the game.
Despite his recent dominance, Bromwich admitted to NRL.com that he was completely taken aback by the phone call he received from Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney telling him that he would lead his country onto Hunter Stadium for the Anzac Test on May 6.
"'Mooks' (Kearney) gave me a call on Wednesday night and broke the news to me," Bromwich told NRL.com.
"I was a bit shocked at the start. I told my partner and she was crying so she was pretty stoked whereas I just couldn't really believe it.
"There were a few swear words. Honestly it was a complete shock. I just wanted to get in the team and enjoy the week with the boys."
Kearney jokingly revealed that he wasn't sure what to make of Bromwich's profanity-filled reply at the time.
"I don't think I can mention the response when I rang him earlier last week to let him know I was thinking about putting him as captain," the Kiwis coach said in between chuckles.
"I don't think I can repeat it because I didn't know if that meant a yes or a no."
Kearney had no hesitation in naming Bromwich national skipper, citing last year's end-of-season tour to the UK as the moment he knew he was captain material.
"For me it was an easy decision. I watched him really grow as a leader on that campaign," Kearney continued.
"He was thrilled and it is a wonderful story for Jesse. I think the progression of Jesse as a leader [has been there to see].
"For him to elevate himself into the position he's in now as one of the premier props - if not the premier prop in the game - is a wonderful story for him."
While Friday night's encounter will be Bromwich's first match at any level as skipper, it will be Cameron Smith's 16th in charge of the green and golds.
Running out against his club captain will be a surreal moment according to the humbly-spoken 26-year-old, but it's something he's looking forward to.
"I haven't really thought too much about that yet," the new Kiwis captain said.
"It'll be a bit different going up against him but you've got to put all that stuff aside come Friday night. He's one of the best leaders I've ever met and I try to learn as much as I can – not only off him – but Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater as well."
And while he might respect them, don't expect the Storm big man to go soft on his club mates on Friday night.
"There's no going easier on anyone so I'll be going just as hard on them."
Bromwich isn't expecting the "c" next to his name to change his normal role within the team but is well aware that he will have to shoulder more responsibility than usual on Friday night.
"It's the first time being a captain and I guess it's time for me to get out of my comfort zone and do a little bit more of this stuff," he said.
"For me I think it's just more with my actions. I'm not really the loudest talker or anything like that but I'll have to do a little more talking in meetings. But for me it's just about going out there and doing my job and taking on that extra little bit of responsibility."
This article originally appeared on NRL.com.
The views expressed in this article are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Melbourne Storm Rugby League Club.