Last year's NRL grand finalists the Melbourne Storm are looking to this weekend's Downer NRL Auckland Nines as a launch-pad to go one better in season 2017.
The Storm named fast-rising stars Young Tonumaipea and Kenny Bromwich as co-captains for this weekend's two-day tournament.
"The Nines is a bigger stepping stone for everyone, especially the younger boys who get to wear the purple jersey for the first time," Tonumaipea said.
"It's an awesome opportunity to show the big boss who's watching and coming along."
While assistant coach Jason Ryles will manage the team at the tournament, the "big boss" – head coach Craig Bellamy – will be attendance casting a careful eye on a young core of players he is looking to step up for the Storm this season.
"The young guys do come in and get to show what they've got, as well as the new guys at the club coming in to show what they've got," Bromwich said.
"There's a few spots up for grabs so it'll be good for the boys to put their hands up and get the first go at it."
The Nines also shapes as the ideal opportunity for Bromwich and Tonumaipea to establish their early-season form and prove they are capable of stepping into bigger roles this season.
Mostly used off the bench last year, Bromwich is set to see his minutes rise significantly in 2017 as he replaces departed second-rower Kevin Proctor. And the 25-year-old is motivated to seize the opportunity as co-captain.
"It puts me in a position where I have to lead," Bromwich said.
"I like to lead with my actions. I'll speak when I have to but I'll go out there and try to lead with my actions."
Have signed a new two-year deal last season, Tonumaipea will be a key factor for the Storm this year with the 24-year-old utility outside back eager to impress no matter where he finds himself on the field.
"The Nines isn't only a good opportunity for me but all the young fellas to go out there and show their skills and versatility for different positions," Tonumaipea said.
"I thought in last year's Nines we went really well and that set up a really good year for us."
This article was originally published on NRL.com.