Brandon Smith received an emotional haka led by his autistic cousin to cap off a perfect night for the Kiwis debutant.

The rookie gave an outstanding display from dummy half, making light of his inexperience with a mature performance in New Zealand's thrilling 26-24 victory.

Read more:
Dawn of a new era - Kiwis hold off late Kangaroos charge
Kiwis let chaos take the wheel for first win over Kangaroos since 2015
Kiwis v Kangaroos player ratings
Kiwis look to the future after win over Kangaroos

Smith scored a crucial second half try – which helped to turn momentum back towards the home side – and almost had another, only denied by the boot of a Kangaroos defender as he tried to force the ball.

Advertisement

He also provided crisp, composed service from the base of the ruck, took options well and helped the Kiwis to a impressive completion rate.

And his night was topped off by a tribute from Waiheke based family and friends, part of the boat loads that had come over for the game.

"I went to see a lot of my friends and family after the game they were on the sidelines," said Smith.

"I was blessed to get a haka..my autistic cousin Cohen led it - that was another emotional moment for me.He's the biggest Warriors fan you have ever met and even though I am playing at Melbourne he stays strong to the Warriors. [But] there is no one that I have met that loves football more than him, so to receive that was really humbling."

Standing outside the Kiwis dressing room, Smith at times struggled to find the words to sum up an incredible night.

"I was pretty emotional fella," said Smith. "I don't think I have ever been through something like that in my life. [During the anthems] the camera came along and I was balling my eyes out. I saw my sister in the crowd and it was a pretty unreal experience. I don't think anything could top it so far. It was definitely the proudest moment of my life, and I think my Dad's life as well."

Smith, who has been in the queue behind Cameron Smith at the Storm for the past two seasons but still played 21 NRL games, mostly at lock, paid tribute to the faith shown by Michael Maguire

"He gave me the shot I've been looking for all of my life," said Smith. "Hopefully I can build from that and become a long term hooker for the Kiwis."

Last night Smith lived up to all the potential that has long been talked about, and shown why the Storm have signed him to a long term deal. He seems to embrace every challenge, and the confidence he showed to take the Kangaroos forwards on up the middle was impressive, especially with his 53rd minute try.

"I'm grateful the boys played the ball quick for me and gave me the chance to do that," said Smith Madge (Maguire) put the confidence in me...if you want to scoot just scoot."