Brandon Smith is set to perform his biannual transition for the Kiwis next Saturday against Tonga.

After playing this season as a middle forward at the Storm, Smith will have to quickly adjust to being hooker for his country.

It's a considerable challenge and far from ideal, especially given test match intensity, and the fact that at dummy half, Smith will handle the ball more than any other Kiwis player on the field.

The positional switch is a big ask but certainly not beyond the Waiheke Island product.


The 23 year old is a special talent, as he showed with a remarkable debut in the win over the Kangaroos last October, followed by solid performances during the series in England.

He's also not short of confidence and self-belief, an important attribute for any player.

"Last year was the same situation," said Smith. "[In 2018], I only all up played 35 minutes of dummy half and I got picked as the Kiwis hooker. [If picked], I don't know how I'm going to go. It just depends how I go at training; if I get that week in camp, I'll be doing everything I can, doing the little things, doing extras, and hopefully I can have a good game off the back of that."

It's an unusual scenario. Smith is now viewed as the best Kiwis hooker in the NRL but he never plays there. He has been at the Storm since 2017 but remains stuck in the queue behind Cameron Smith, arguably the greatest dummy half in the game.

"I'd definitely rather play hooker," said Smith. "That's where I want to play, but at the moment, we've got the world's best at our club. I'll bide my time as long as I can. I'll keep learning off him, and as long as our team is winning, it doesn't really matter to me. I'd prefer to play nine but I'm more than happy to sit back and watch Cameron Smith for a couple of years."

Smith has reinvented himself as an impact player off the bench. He belies his size (1.80m, 94kg) with incredible ferocity with and without the ball, becoming an automatic selection in Craig Bellamy's match day 17.

If Smith gets selected tonight, he'll be taking a narrow focus.

"I don't need to be Cameron Smith, I don't need to be Issac Luke, I just need to make my tackles and give some energy to the boys," said Smith ahead of the team naming.


"We have got players in the Kiwis team — Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Ken Maumalo — they can create things, too. I'll just get my job done and hopefully I can do some good things off the back of them."