Jesse Bromwich had 22 test caps to his name for the Kiwis before walking out onto the pitch against Australia on Saturday night.

It wasn't anything new for the 29-year-old but, much like with debutants Joseph Manu and Brandon Smith, the emotion of the moment hit him hard.

For Bromwich, the chance to pull on the black jersey again was never a certainty after he was exiled from the squad in early 2017 after a drug scandal.

"There were some dark days," Bromwich said after helping the Kiwis to a 26-24 win over the Kangaroos.

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Bromwich and fellow Kiwis forward Kevin Proctor were stood down from the side after the Anzac test in May 2017 after the news of the pair allegedly snorting cocaine outside a Canberra night club broke. Bromwich was the Kiwis captain at the time.

Removed from the side, he had to watch as the Kiwis stumbled through arguably their worst ever year of football – falling to both Tonga and Fiji during the World Cup.

However, when 2014 NRL Premiership winning coach Michael Maguire took over at the helm early this year, whether Bromwich and Proctor would be brought back into the frame became one of many burning questions.

Maguire had his plan - and it involved Bromwich and Proctor.

"I spoke to Madge quite a lot before the Denver test, so I knew I was always a chance because Madge was talking to me in length about which direction he wants to go," Bromwich said.

"I'm very grateful for the opportunity and I can't thank him enough."

Bromwich and Proctor both made their return to the representative level on Saturday night. Every run they made was purposeful and direct. Every tackle was made with plenty of feeling behind it.

"It feels good to get one over Australia. They don't come around too often…I was a bit emotional at the start there, but I'm just happy to be back."

Maguire addressed their comeback performances after the match, and said their level of play was a sign of where he wants the Kiwis side to be.

"People like Kevin Proctor and Jesse Bromwich, they've faced adversity and I think what we saw there from those two, to come back and perform the way they did, is that a lot of young kids unfortunately at some stage make a mistake and those two boys have definitely put their hands up and turned what was a bit of adversity into a strength of where we want to be."