Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Rugby league: Kenny Bromwich celebrates 'biggest week of life'

Kenny Bromwich on the ball for the Storm. Photo / Paul Taylor.
Kenny Bromwich on the ball for the Storm. Photo / Paul Taylor.

Kiwis back rower Kenny Bromwich is coming off the "biggest week of his life", and it could get a whole lot better this Friday night.

The Storm player welcomed his first child into the world on Anzac day, then celebrated his baby boy's arrival with a call up to the New Zealand side.

He's not a complete new face, after making his international debut in the 2016 mid-year test. But that inclusion came after a slew of withdrawals, whereas this time it feels more deserved.

Since last May, Bromwich has become a virtual ever present in the Storm side, and was a key part of their run to the 2016 Grand final. He has filled in impressively for Tohu Harris this season, averaging 28 tackles and 10 runs per game. Bromwich is slowly easing out of the shadow of younger brother Jesse, and after 80 games in the NRL is making his own mark.

Given his utility value - he can play hooker, second row, lock and centre - and the injury withdrawal of Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Bromwich has the inside running for a spot in David Kidwell's 17-man test lineup.

"It's the biggest week of my life actually and things just keep getting better and better," said Bromwich. "[But] I am just taking it as it comes. I'm hoping to prepare as well as I can to give us the best opportunity come game time."

Bromwich dismissed ideas that the Kangaroos pack might be vulnerable, with first choice selections Aaron Woods, Josh Papalii and Shannon Boyd all now unavailable.

"They have always got a big selection to choose from and some guys were probably a bit unlucky to miss out," said Bromwich. "But with the team they have they are looking very dangerous."

Instead, the microscope should be on the Kiwis forwards, who have failed to live up to their reputations over the last two years. In the 2014 Four Nations - and especially in the Anzac test victory the following year - they were unquestionably the best pack in the league world.

There was size, power, footwork and offloads, and the sight of Kangaroos forwards being scattered like ninepins was becoming a regular occurrence.

But since then their status, like the Kiwis No1 ranking, has slipped. They were edged by the English forwards on the 2015 northern hemisphere tour, then saw a makeshift pack demolished last year in Newcastle. The 2016 Four Nations was equally disappointing; after a strong start against England, they failed to make an impression against Australia (twice) and Scotland (an 18-18 draw).

With Australia's formidable cohesion and backline advantages, the Kiwis forwards have to rediscover their mojo on Friday.

"I'm not sure how much [we] have got to prove to others but [we] have got a bit to prove to [ourselves]," admitted Bromwich. "Getting called into this game in a massive honour and [we] are looking to put in a massive performance."

The Kiwis train at Leichhardt Oval today before travelling to Canberra ahead of Friday's match.

- NZ Herald

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