Eye of the Storm: Lee realises potential at Melbourne
Brenko Lee has to pinch himself at his good fortune.
The Melbourne Storm centre arrived at the club during the pre-season, joining his fourth side in six NRL seasons.
Talent has never been a question for the Logan-raised outside back; attitude and injuries have always been the red flags following stints with Canberra, Canterbury and Gold Coast.
Brenko Lee is on the cusp of a finals debut. Credit:Getty Images
The Storm saw that talent and had a need for someone to fill the centre role alongside star winger Suliasi Vunivalu.
Even though he has only played 11 of their 20 games, Lee has made that starting centre spot his own and will run out for his first finals game when the Storm take on Parramatta Eels in a qualifying final at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
The 24-year-old has done so well he was rested in last Sunday’s final round and that was a luxury Lee never thought possible when he turned up at the Storm on a train and trial deal.
"I'm pinching myself at the moment as I didn't think I would be in this situation at all," Lee said.
"I still feel like I have to work hard and earn my spot but I haven't taken this lightly."
Playing centre for the Storm is never an easy task as in recent seasons their firepower has been more focused on the winger on the outside and the second-rower on the inside.
Lee has knuckled down each week and found the consistency of effort and application that was missing during previous years.
"You have to prepare on Monday if you want to play a good game on the weekend," Lee said.
"You can't breeze through the week and think you will play well on the weekend.
"I think I got caught up in that on the other teams. Not training as good as I should and just thinking I would play good on the weekends."
The rewards have shown on the field and even seen him raised into the discussions for a potential centre role for Queensland in State of Origin.
Lee grew up in the Logan area with Maroons prop Josh Papalii living three streets away and talents like Israel Folau, Chris Sandow and Ricky Leutele on the same school bus, so he would be honoured to play for his state.
"I want to focus purely on the Storm and my job," Lee said.
"If I am named, I will be over the moon but that's months away and we have a real good opportunity here to make a good run."
Lee is used to being on holiday in October but now he's got his sights on the most challenging four weeks of his career and after his growth this season, he feels ready.
"I was talking to my old boy about how this time of year I'm getting ready to go into holiday mode and catch up with family I never really see," Lee said.
"The [Storm] boys are used to this [finals] and talking to Suli and NAS [Nelson Asofa-Solomona], they are shocked that I'm not used to it because they are always in the preliminary final or grand final."
The Storm have spent the bulk of the season playing at Sunshine Coast Stadium or Suncorp Stadium but Lee has only had his family at one game as players can't mix with people outside of their bubble.
"The boys who have more family, I'm happy for them to get the tickets," Lee said.
"It's sad when you know your family are there but you can't say hello and interact with them."
The Storm play Parramatta Eels in a qualifying final at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday at 7.50pm AEST.
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