David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

David Skipwith: Kiwis captain Jesse Bromwich will dread fronting Australian skipper Cameron Smith over drug allegations

One of the hardest conversations Kiwis captain Jesse Bromwich will face in explaining his alleged involvement in the NRL's latest drugs scandal will be with his Melbourne Storm club captain and Australian leader Cameron Smith.

Allegations Bromwich and New Zealand test and former Storm premiership winning teammate Kevin Proctor purchased and snorted cocaine in Canberra's city centre in the early hours of yesterday morning have heaped more shame and embarrassment upon the Kiwis in the wake of Friday night's humiliating 30-12 Anzac test defeat to the Kangaroos.

The first question many want answered is why the New Zealand skipper and his fellow senior forward were so determined to keep the party going at the tail-end of an all-nighter after their side had failed to front against their green and gold rivals.

The ridiculousness of the situation underlines the gulf in leadership and professionalism of the Kiwis compared to the Australian camp, a fact that was already reinforced during the one-sided contest at GIO Stadium.

If any player had a right to be out on the town celebrating it was Smith, after the champion No9 became just the second player to reach 50 tests for Australia, in steering the Kangaroos to an unprecedented 100th victory over New Zealand.

But the 33-year-old cleanskin is too smart and mature for that to ever happen.

And while Australian players are no strangers to scandal - including former Canberra bad boys Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson - Smith's Kangaroos teammates have too much respect for both he and revered coach Mal Meninga, to be dumb enough to get caught up in such drama after such an occasion.

Bromwich's future at the helm of the Kiwis and as an eventual successor to Smith in his revered position as Storm skipper is now under a dark cloud.

The league world now awaits the National Rugby League and New Zealand Rugby League's joint findings and decisions over any disciplinary action that might be handed down.

Whatever the outcomes, one imagines the two conversations Bromwich will have been dreading most, will be with his own family and the Storm hierarchy of Smith and coach Craig Bellamy.

Sure, both players would certainly be concerned about their future in the New Zealand side with the World Cup on home soil only five months away. But under-fire coach David Kidwell and the NZRL appear as toothless tigers compared to Bellamy, who tends to view even the simplest form of ill-discipline - a knock-on or missed tackle, for example - with pure disdain.

Bromwich has spoken previously of having modeled his leadership style on the peerless example set by Smith and fellow Storm leaders Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater.

Whatever his ambitions and prospects were, the 28-year-old has a long way to go before he can look to follow in Smith's trail.

Following the Kiwis defeat, Bromwich would have done better by himself and his team, by sticking close to former Kiwis captain Simon Mannering, who has always been able to keep his name and face out of the off-field spotlight.

Bromwich and Proctor's stupidity is even harder to understand after former Kiwis teammate Shaun Kenny-Dowall was arrested for cocaine possession in Sydney less than 24 hours before the Canberra test.

Kenny-Dowall reportedly moved quickly on Friday to have himself drug tested to prove the absence of illicit substances in his system, although that action won't help him fight the charge of possession.

It remains to be seen whether Bromwich and Proctor volunteer themselves for similar testing after they were reportedly caught in the act on CCTV footage.

The price of their alleged indiscretions are sure to be high, but Smith and Bellamy's harsh judgements could carry more weight than any other potential punishment.

- NZ Herald

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