Two Melbourne Storm players with a combined total of almost 450 games worth of NRL experience have been appointed co-captains for the club’s premiership defence in 2021.
Jesse Bromwich and Dale Finucane come to the job after being joint vice-captains for the past two years and will join an elite list of footballers who have had the honour of being Storm’s full-time captains over the past 24 seasons.
The forward duo take over from the game’s longest serving captain, Cameron Smith, who has relocated to Queensland and is still considering his future in the NRL.
It is the first time Storm has appointed a new captain since Smith took over the sole captaincy in 2005.
Finucane and Bromwich will officially lead out the team together for the first time in the NRL season opener against South Sydney at AAMI Park on Thursday, March 11.
Bromwich, 31, made his debut for Storm in 2010 and has gone on to play 248 matches, headlined by three grand final wins (2012, 2017, 2020).
He has previously captained Storm in Smith’s absence on six occasions and led New Zealand in the 2016 Four Nations tournament and 2017 Anzac Test.
Finucane, 29, played his 200th NRL match in last season’s finals series and has lined up in 135 games for Melbourne since joining the club from Canterbury in 2015.
He has played in six grand finals for two premiership victories (2017 and 2020), made his State of Origin debut for New South Wales in 2019 and again featured in the 2020 Origin series at the end of last season.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy said Finucane and Bromwich had demonstrated their leadership qualities on and off the field for a number of seasons.
"Jesse and Dale were identified some time ago as possible future captains of our club," he said.
"Through our leadership program, they have progressed and developed their leadership skills, especially in the last couple of years, and have had a great captain to learn from in Cameron Smith, who was a wonderful leader of our team for so many years."
"I’ve no doubt he has been the best captain the game has seen in modern times.
They have the total respect of the playing group, the coaching staff and everyone associated with our club and I’m sure, with the help of the wider leadership group, they’ll do a wonderful job.Craig Bellamy On co-captains Dale Finucane and Jesse Bromwich
Joining Finucane and Bromwich in Storm’s leadership group for 2021 are:
- Kenny Bromwich – 171 NRL/Storm games, 2017 and 2020 NRL premiership team member, 10 Tests for New Zealand;
- Cameron Munster – 131 NRL/Storm games, 2017 and 2020 NRL premiership team member, 10 State of Origins for Queensland, 4 Tests for Australia;
- Felise Kaufusi – 132 NRL/Storm games, 2017 and 2020 NRL premiership team member, 9 State of Origins for Queensland, 4 Tests for Australia, 3 Tests for Tonga; and
- Christian Welch – 96 NRL/Storm games, 2020 premiership team member, 3 State of Origins for Queensland.
Kaufusi and Welch have been promoted from the 2020 Emerging Leaders squad.
This year’s Emerging Leaders are Jahrome Hughes, Ryan Papenhuyzen, Brandon Smith, Tui Kamikamica and new inclusions Tom Eisenhuth and Harry Grant.
Storm General Manager – Football Frank Ponissi said assistant coach Stephen Kearney would act as a key mentor for both leadership groups this season.
"We are very well placed for the future with the quality of young men we have in both groups," Ponissi said.
"They have stepped forward to take on extra responsibilities on and off the field and will be great representatives for our club in these leadership roles.
"The Emerging Leadership program was a leadership education program we started way back in 2015 with Nick Maxwell and all six senior leaders including Jesse and Dale have been developed through this very important program."