A premiership ring – and possibly a spot in New Zealand's end-of-season squad – is on the line when Jesse Bromwich and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves face off for the first time in an NRL grand final on Sunday night.
It's an intriguing match-up for several reasons: both are forward leaders for their respective sides, they're both Kiwi stars, they're both 29 and they have similar physical attributes.
Whereas Waerea-Hargreaves (listed at 193cm and 108 kg) is the aggressor, Melbourne's Bromwich (who is slightly taller and heavier at 194cm and 114 kg) has excellent footwork before the line.
They refer to themselves as "good mates" after several Kiwi tours and a World Cup together in 2013.
But a good performance may also see Bromwich reclaim his spot in the Kiwis side for their end-of-season program against Australia, England and France – potentially at the expense of his Roosters counterpart.
Not to mention paving a path for a premiership victory.
"We came through the 20s at the same time," Bromwich said of Waerea-Hargreaves.
"Our careers have been quite similar. But competing for spots for the Kiwis... it's hard to say. Inside, you're always competing against your fellow props, especially those who you respect. He's up there.
"It's not trying to keep him out of the [Kiwis] team or anything, it's just competing to be the best in your position."
Waerea-Hargreaves burst on the representative scene in 2009 in his first year of first-grade while playing for the Sea Eagles.
After signing with the Roosters in 2010, the Rotorua-born prop flourished for club and country, with his aggressive carries – and a bit of mongrel – often what his teams needed.
Then came the disappointing 2013 World Cup, when he was criticised for not stepping up in the big games. In the Kiwis' horror loss in the final, he ran for just 45 metres in eight carries.
After three years in the Test wilderness, Waerea-Hargreaves got a call-up in 2016 and an extended chance in the 2017 World Cup – after Bromwich's position became available following his suspension.
And the Roosters vice-captain has thrived since, playing 23 NRL games this season and setting the tone for the likes of young Victor Radley, Dylan Napa and Isaac Liu to follow.
"I'll stand in front of him and do my best," Waerea-Hargreaves said of his Storm counterpart.
"I'll still do a lot of homework on him and the rest of the opposition. It's a game I'm really looking forward to."
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