Dolphins prop Bromwich to make history against Eels

Dolphins captain Jesse Bromwich used to hate sitting on the bench, which partly explains why he is set to become the first prop in the 116-year history of the premiership to start in 300 first-grade games.

The 34-year-old, who won three premierships with Melbourne and has played 321 games in total, will set the benchmark in Darwin on Friday night against Parramatta.

When asked why he had been such a prolific starter, Bromwich grinned.

“I remember sitting on the bench years ago and I used to burn up so much energy sitting there pacing around and wanting to get out there,” he said.

“I always thought, man it would be good to go straight from the warm-up to the sheds and rip in.”

Rugby league historian David Middleton told AAP that Bromwich, who has also played 34 Tests for New Zealand, had been a wonderful warrior from the get-go.

“When you start a game (as a prop), you are there at the coalface from the opening whistle,” he told AAP.

“They are the ones taking or confronting the first hit-up of the game. No-one has done that as often as Jesse has done it.”

Bromwich, whose late footwork dazzled as a younger prop, is in a different mould to several of the great modern front-rowers such as Glenn Lazarus, Shane Webcke and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves. He has done it his way and he has done it well.

“It is very much a do-your-job role so it is about effectiveness. Jesse’s record stacks up with any in terms of premierships and Test matches,” Middleton said.

“He did a job for (Storm coach) Craig Bellamy without being one of the stars.”

Middleton said Bromwich was out in front of other elite props who have started in first-grade games. Bob O’Reilly (282), Petero Civoniceva (266), Bill Hamilton (255), James Tamou (244), Waerea-Hargreaves (243) and Lazarus (241) are next.

Bromwich said the 2013 World Cup in England was when he realised what kind of player he could become.

“I went away with the Kiwis and remember coming back to Melbourne for the pre-season and just being more confident in my ability, and from then I was able to establish myself,” he said.

“Simon Mannering was someone I looked up to (with the Kiwis). We had Sonny Bill Williams and all the young Kiwi boys looked up to him.

“Frank Pritchard was there and we had all of us young guys coming through - me and Jared, Ben Matulino and Sam McKendry. We used to get into little competitions to see who could go the hardest at training and that’s when I guess I thought I could handle the league."

Bromwich has been at his best in the early rounds of 2024 in what will be his last season in the NRL

“I’m enjoying being with this group,” he said.

“Obviously being coached by Wayne (Bennett) is really nice too. I think knowing this is my last year ... I’m trying to leave everything out there for the boys and trying to finish as best I can.”

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