After making his NRL debut for Melbourne against Wests Tigers at AAMI Park back in April 2013, Kenny Bromwich had one goal.
To play one more game.
The younger brother of prop Jesse Bromwich, Kenny would wait another four months before that next game, but by the time that second NRL appearance rolled around, he would quickly go on to establish himself as a regular in Melbourne’s bench rotation as a versatile utility forward.
Bromwich played again the following week, and the one after that, and so on for the next nine seasons — missing only a handful of matches along the way as a high-achieving, low-profile support player in a Storm team studded with superstars.
And when Melbourne welcome the Dragons to AAMI Park on Sunday, the 30-year-old Kiwi international will enjoy a rare turn in the spotlight when he plays his 200th game.
Joining brother Jesse, Ryan Hoffman, Matt Geyer, Will Chambers, and the ‘big three’ of Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater, Bromwich will become only the eighth player to reach the double-century milestone for the men in purple.
“I never thought I’d see the day that I’d play 200 NRL games,” Bromwich told NRL.com after his side's win against the Knights last week.
I’ve always taken it one week at a time, so to get the opportunity to play 200 games, especially at a club like the Storm, I’m very proud of that.Kenny Bromwich
“I was always, ‘I’d like to play next week’, so I’d play one game and I’d be like, ‘yeah, hopefully I can play again next week’, so I was always just trying to do my best that week and the next week to play the next game.
“I’ve seen a lot of people come and go from the club, obviously some generational players like the ‘big three’, then I’ve seen some amazing guys coming through like Ryan Papenhuyzen, Cameron Munster, Jahrome Hughes, and some guys that have left the team already.
“But the Storm keep finding a way to fill those spots with that ‘next man up’ mentality.
“The club do that well, and it’s been special to be a part of such a successful club for a long time, especially with all those people coming through, so I’m stoked to be here and to be able to play 200 games for the club.”
Though he has happily played his role without the same fuss or fanfare afforded many of his Storm team-mates in the past 10 seasons, Bromwich has achieved more than most during his career.
He has won two premierships from four grand finals, established an NRL career winning percentage of 74%, and represented New Zealand in 10 Tests.
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Though others might dominate the headlines, Bromwich said the people who matter most – such as coach Craig Bellamy – appreciate what he does, and what he has done.
“I don’t mind. This club, they do a pretty good job of highlighting the little things and the things that are important to us,” Bromwich said.
“The superstars in our team get a lot of raps in the media, as they should because they do some amazing things for us on the field and even off the field.
“But Craig and the coaching staff, their attention to detail and how much they focus on the little things, a lot of guys in our team get a lot of raps within our team.”
Bellamy said the Bromwich brothers will be sorely missed when they leave the Storm at the end of the season to take up contracts with the new Dolphins club under coach Wayne Bennett.
Jesse, whose 278 appearances place him behind only Smith, Cronk and Slater on the Storm’s most capped list, has signed for two years at the Dolphins and Kenny has committed for three.
“Both of them have been outstanding for us... and both of them have been there a long time,” Bellamy said.
“Kenny’s played some differing roles for us. He was in the ruck for a while, and the last four or five seasons he’s been on an edge and he’s one of the best edge players in the game.
“Besides being real good footy players, both of them are just real good guys, and I can see why Wayne put them up the top of his list to sign because they’ve got a genuine care about their team and their team-mates.
“It’s not about them, it’s about what the team needs, and they’re willing to do whatever it is the team needs. They’ve done that, Jess for 13 years and Kenny for 10, and they’ll be greatly missed next year.”
Jesse said Kenny had emerged in recent years as the leader of Melbourne’s lethal left edge.
“I just feel very lucky and grateful for the opportunity to do this alongside Ken for such a long time, and a lot of the success that we’ve had has been together,” Jesse said.
“And I think he’s really grown as well, as a player. Like Craig said, he started in the ruck and did a really good job for us off the bench for a long time, but he’s really found a home for us on the edge.
“That left edge has been a really good edge for a few years now. I really think he’s a big part of that as well, and he leads those boys really well.
“He’s someone I never have to worry about because I know he’s going to be really consistent and he’s going to be going out there to do his best.”
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Kenny feels proud and privileged to have played all but a few of his 199 games alongside his brother.
“That’s one of the highlights, and something that I’m always looking forward to, to be able to play with him,” Kenny said.
“I’ve only played a handful of games where we haven’t played together, and it does feel a little bit weird when he’s not there … I’m happy that he’s going to be there on Sunday, and my parents and everyone will be there too, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Bromwich is enthusiastic about what lies ahead with the Dolphins in their inaugural NRL season, but he wants to achieve something special before leaving Melbourne.
“We’ve got an exciting challenge next year,” he said.
Storm v Dragons
“But we’ve got an even bigger challenge this year, and that’s to do the best we can and give ourselves the best opportunity to win the premiership.
“That’s something I’m really looking forward to trying to chase, so we’ll take that one game at a time.”
As he has done his whole career.
Match: Storm v Dragons
Round 9 -
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne