Jesse Bromwich single-handedly took the game away from the Titans and is developing into a fine leader at the Storm. Credit: Charles Knight. Copyright: NRL Photos
Leaders come in many forms. There are the orators who inspire tremendous deeds through the power of their words while there are others who charge headlong into battle hoping that their example will drive men to show courage they never knew was possible.
Jesse Bromwich is still unsure whether he is a leader or not but in the space of three minutes last Monday night he used both strength and guile to blast two holes in the opposition defence and carry his team to victory.
Coming in the last 10 minutes of the Round 14 clash with the Titans, it was the type of scruff-of-the-neck-grabbing exploits you would not normally expect from a 25-year-old front-rower but represented the next phase of Bromwich's career.
With modern greats surrounding him, Bromwich is not yet a member of the Storm leadership group, but that doesn't mean he is not a leader.
"It's been huge," stand-in captain Ryan Hinchcliffe said of his influence on the team. "This year he's just seemed to grow another leg. He really believes in himself and when he walks out onto that field he believes he's the strongest, toughest player out there and he plays like that.
"The influence he has on us as a team is huge and he's been outstanding for us all year and we need him to keep doing that."
Although he was recruited to the Storm via Orange in central west New South Wales, Bromwich remains the quintessential Kiwi. He refers to the 'big three' of Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk as "three bros" and possesses a casual nature to both time-keeping and expansive use of the English language.
It's perhaps why he doesn't yet feel the need to speak up in team situations but he admits that when so many senior players are missing, he does feel a compulsion to step into the breach in his own mild-mannered way.
"Having three bros out today and 'Hoffy' (Ryan Hoffman), personally I wanted to stand up and have a good one and without it being said too much I thought all the boys really thought that and we played like that too. We really wanted to prove something and I thought the boys did really well," said Bromwich ahead of a meeting with the Eels on Sunday that will give them the opportunity to climb back into the top eight.
"I think I'm a little quiet compared to the other boys [in the leadership group]. I like to lead with my actions so I guess I'd like to keep it that way this year and see what happens in a couple of years."
Against the Titans Bromwich was a tower of strength in the middle of the field with 185 metres from 19 hit-ups but it was the two game-breaking plays in the 71st and 74th minutes that stamped his class on proceedings.
Having provided the final pass for Will Chambers' first of two tries in the 19th minute and with his team trailing 16-14 in the 71st minute, Bromwich took a hit-up from five metres on the Storm's side of halfway, used a lovely piece of footwork to beat Mark Minichiello cold and ran down to the 20m line where he passed inside to Hinchcliffe who put Ben Hampton away to score under the posts.
Three minutes later he laid on a superb short ball for Tohu Harris to bust through the Titans defence and on the next play Kurt Mann scored the try that would prove the difference.
It was the type of individual influence reserved for the game's elite playmakers but not one that came as a surprise to his coach Craig Bellamy.
"His performance [against the Titans] was pretty indicative of what he's been doing all year for us," Bellamy said. "He has been simply outstanding for us all year, probably tonight he played his longest time for us, I think he got about 70 minutes out which is quite phenomenal for the amount of work that he does and the size of the guy."
Prior to last week's win over the Titans the Storm had lost four of their previous six encounters, hardly the five-game losing streak of 2012 but still an unfamiliar pattern for one of the two most dominant teams of the past decade.
Bellamy was at a loss to explain what was going wrong after five losses on the trot two years ago but that was the last game his team dropped on their way to a second premiership. Despite being outside the top eight through the halfway point of the season, Bromwich is confident they can regroup and make a charge deep into September.
"I think you can definitely come out of [a slump], it just takes a lot of hard work," said the Kiwi international.
"In 2012 I think it was a bit later in the season so we've still got a lot of this competition to go and hopefully we can start winning some games and getting into the top eight.
"I think that's a really good time to start building some momentum, coming into that September footy and building up some real good momentum coming into those semi-final games."