By NZ Herald – Michael Burgess
The 2018 NRL grand final will set a new mark for New Zealand participation.
Nine Kiwis will be part of the ‘Big Dance’ tomorrow night, the most for a grand final not involving the Warriors.
Brothers Jesse and Kenny Bromwich are part of a Storm foursome that also includes Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Brandon Smith.
The Roosters match day squad features Joseph Manu and Zane Tetevano – the pride of Tokoroa – as well as Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Isaac Liu.
The only times there have been more New Zealanders involved was in 2002 and 2011, when the Warriors contributed plenty of home grown talent.
The situation tomorrow is a far cry from the 1980s, when only three Kiwis featured in grand finals across the entire decade.
The Bromwich brothers will extend their niche as the only siblings from this country to play in a grand final, having featured together in 2016 and 2017.
Dane and Kurt Sorensen had many years together at the Cronulla Sharks in the 1970s and early 1980s but their time in the Sutherland shire never coincided with an NRL decider.
By playing in his fourth grand final, Bromwich also enters exalted company. Only four New Zealanders have achieved a quartet of NRL deciders.
Brent Todd (1987, 1989, 1990 and 1991) held the record for a long time, but the prop has since been joined by Jeremy Smith (2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010), Steve Matai (2007, 2008, 2011 and 2013) and Adam Blair (2006, 2007, 2009 and 2015).
The 29-year-old could also become the first Kiwi to have three premiership rings, going ahead of Todd, Smith, Matai, Sonny Bill Williams and a handful of others on two.
With nine Kiwis on show, there’s also a chance that this country’s Clive Churchill Medal drought could finally end.
Despite almost 140 appearances by New Zealanders in the NRL decider since the first in 1975, no one from this country has claimed the award for the grand final’s best player.
There have been some strong claims by New Zealanders over the years, particularly Matthew Ridge (1996), Tawera Nikau (1999), Benji Marshall (2005), Adam Blair (2009) and Sonny Bill Williams (2013).
Depending on how the match unfolds, Jesse Bromwich, Asofa-Solomona or Waerea-Hargreaves appear to have the chance of scooping that award for this country, although the likes of Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Jake Friend will be prohibitive favourites.
Kiwis who flew
Kiwis with most NRL grand final appearances
Adam Blair: 2006, 2008, 2009 (Storm), 2015 (Broncos).
Steve Matai: 2007, 2008, 2011, 2013 (all Sea Eagles).
Jeremy Smith: 2006, 2007, 2008 (Storm), 2010 (Dragons).
Brent Todd: 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991 (all Raiders).
Most wins: Two
Jesse Bromwich: 2012, 2017.
Steve Matai: 2008, 2011.
Jeremy Smith: 2007, 2010.
Brent Todd: 1989, 1990.
Joe Galuvao: 2003, 2011.
Paul Whatuira: 2003, 2005.
Sonny Bill Williams: 2004, 2013.
Jeff Lima: 2007, 2009.