Appropriately for a club with such a rich Kiwi history, there was a special tribute for Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith following his record 400th NRL game last night.
Footage from the Storm’s changing rooms after the 40-16 win over Cronulla at Melbourne’s AAMI Park, shows several of the club’s Kiwi contingent, led by Kenny Bromwich, do a haka for Smith.
The group included current Kiwis stars Jesse Bromwich, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Brandon Smith and Jahrome Hughes as well as NZ-born Kangaroos star Felise Kaufusi, ex-Warrior Albert Vete and former All Black Andrew Blowers, who is part of the club’s player welfare team.
The festivities started early, with a light show and tributes from former teammates Johnathan Thurston and Billy Slater, before Smith - wearing custom-made gold boots - ran on to the field.
Then the 22,000-strong crowd gathered on the field after the match as the captain was presented with a crystal cut football.
Smith said it felt like running out for a final or a State of Origin rather than a regular round match.
"It's a good feeling now that it's done and particularly that we had a win," Smith said.
"It was a really enjoyable week and tonight was unlike anything else."
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy said while the performance wasn't perfect he felt they did the occasion justice.
"It's been a really good week to be a part of and all of those guys can say they played with Cameron Smith the night he played 400 games," Bellamy said.
Brandon Smith, the heir in waiting to the skipper, collected a double while Cameron Munster was also busy after backing up from Origin and scored the opening try off a Hughes grubber.
Asofa-Solomona and Jesse Bromwich were huge, particularly in the first half as Melbourne raced to an 18-4 lead.