Brandon Smith, centre, celebrates with his teammates at the end of the Kiwis vs Kangaroos rugby league test.

“It’s a tremendous result – tremendous for the team and tremendous for him,” Shane Smith said after his son Brandon’s key role in the Kiwis victory over the Kangaroos in Saturday night’s rugby league test at Mt Smart.
The 26-24 win flattered the Australians and could well have been by a larger margin, especially had Brandon’s second touch down not been disallowed. As it was, the try he was awarded put the New Zealand side ahead for the first time in the match and the characteristic energy he brought to the game lifted the whole team’s performance.
The hooker’s international debut won praise from commentators on both sides of the Tasman and from teammates Shaun Johnson and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.
“There was a fantastic atmosphere, all the Waiheke people there made it really good. All the people you’d want there, were there,” Shane says.
Brandon felt the emotion of the occasion, wearing the black jersey for the first time. Tears welled up during the national anthem and after the game, especially when his cousin led a spirited haka from the sidelines in Brandon’s honour.
The Smith family are still coming down from the high they were on over the weekend. Shane says his wife Tee “is still a bit hoarse. Right now she can’t even talk.”
Brandon managed to get back to Waiheke to stay with his family on Sunday evening before getting an early ferry back to Auckland on Monday morning to re-join his teammates. They flew out later that day to Europe for the forthcoming test series against England and France. • Rob Brennan

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