Every NRL season, bonds are built – and destroyed – across 24 rounds in one of the world’s toughest sporting competitions.
They say being buddies with your teammates and enjoying your footy can be half the challenge when it comes to successful teams, but some bonds between mates have stood the test of time to become unbreakable at various clubs.
And, it’s not just teammates. Players and their coaches can become part of the fabric at clubs as we
In getting into the spirit of supporting your mate, just as Depend Men stands by you through the curveballs of life, Zero Tackle has looked at six unbreakable bonds in the NRL today.
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Jesse Bromwich and Kenneath Bromwich (The Dolphins
Who else to kick off our list but the longest-tenured NRL brothers?
The last time they didn’t play on the same team for an entire season was twenty years ago in 2012, because Kenny hadn’t debuted yet.
The big forwards were part of the Melbourne Storm’s sustained run of success, with Kenny playing 216 games for the club and Jesse 295.
They have played in big games, grand finals and international Tests for New Zealand, but, not content with that, the duo decided to make the switch to Redcliffe – together – and spark the NRL’s newest team to life in 2023 under the guidance of NRL great, Wayne Bennett.
There they have continued to feature alongside one another, and, while the Dolphins haven’t yet managed the success Melbourne regularly did, there is little doubt the exceptional form the Redcliffe-based outfit displayed at the start of the year wouldn’t have been possible without the presence of the two experienced forwards.
Stuart and Croker share one thing in common – they just love the Canberra Raiders.
Stuart, who played 203 games for the club in the 1980s and 1990s during the main part of his playing career, has been back coaching in the nation’s capital since 2014.
Jarrod Croker, on the other hand, debuted in 2009 and has been a key member of Stuart’s side ever since the coach made the switch back to the green machine.
Stuart recently ensured Croker would play his 300th game in Canberra, and the duo have one of the strongest bonds between any player and coach anywhere in the competition.
Croker heading into retirement at the end of the year is unlikely to be the end of his tenure with the club in some capacity – it’s impossible to see Ricky Stuart not having a spot for him on his team somewhere.
Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai (Penrith Panthers)
This could be written about plenty of players in the Penrith side.
As maligned as they are by fans of other clubs around the NRL, there is no denying the Panthers have one of the best junior bases in the competition, and this pathway has formed the backbone for the outrageous successes the club has enjoyed in recent years.
Most of the 2022 grand final team was from the local Penrith area, and there is no exception to that rule for the halves pairing of Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai.
State of Origin halves partners as well, the duo have played together through all of the Panthers’ latest highs, and it’s clear they want to continue playing in the same side moving forward, having come through the juniors and reserve grade system at Penrith together.
One of the game’s best half combinations, Cameron Munster and Jahrome Hughes have combined excellently for the Storm in recent seasons.
While Munster regularly gets most of the credit for the success of the Storm, there is little doubt that Hughes is one of the most underrated halfbacks in the competition, and the duo have a combination which just works. Their games complement each other perfectly.
Munster has been at the Storm since 2014, while his combination with Hughes really picked up following the departure of Cooper Cronk in 2018.
The New Zealander has gone on to play a number of Tests for the Kiwis, while Munster is now one of the first picked every year for Queensland’s State of Origin squad.
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James Tedesco and Luke Keary (Sydney Roosters)
While it would be fair to say the Roosters haven’t been at their absolute best in 2023, the combination of James Tedesco and Luke Keary over the last six years has been something special.
Tedesco, who has regularly been among the game’s best players since arriving at the Roosters in 2018, has spent just a season less at the club than Keary.
The duo were part of the club’s march to the 2019 premiership and have often combined in free-flowing, excellent football. Tedesco, even throughout this year in his role as club captain, has regularly showered Keary with praise, while the duo read each other superbly on the field.
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Tedesco and Keary are critical to the Roosters’ success and could continue to be until their careers come to an end within Trent Robinson’s set-up – neither player looks likely to walk away from their partnership anytime soon.