Raiders winger Edrick Lee almost left the club after his first year in the under-20s.

Canberra legend Ken Nagas will forever be remembered for his storied Raiders career throughout the 1990s.

 

But the former Blues and Kangaroos representative can also lay claim to being the man responsible for Raiders winger Edrick Lee's burgeoning NRL career. 

Nagas – a long term assistant coach for the Raiders under-20s side – convinced Lee not to leave Canberra midway through his Holden Cup tenure back in 2011. 

The then 19-year-old Lee was going through the "hardest time of his life" in the nation's capital and was ready to throw rugby league away for an unknown life back home in Brisbane. 

"I was extremely homesick. It was my first time away from home and my family. The pre-season before my first season in the NYC was probably the hardest time of my life," Lee told NRL.com. 

"I pretty much told the coaching staff after the first year that I was done. I wanted to go home. I didn't know my way around Canberra or anybody that lived here. 

"I called it quits pretty much."

Now 24, Lee wouldn't be preparing for the biggest game of his career – Saturday night's preliminary final against the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park – if not for Nagas's intervention. 

Even if he doesn't see much of Nagas these days, Lee wouldn't have made one first grade appearance let alone the 68 he's accumulated since. 

"That's when Nagas came in and told me 'you don't know what you could do next year'," Lee recalled. 

"Kenny really helped me learn my way around Canberra. He made me feel more comfortable and I'm so glad I took the advice from him at the time. It's definitely made me the player I am today.

"It was a good thing he did that too because the next year (2012) I was lucky enough to make my first grade debut – it's been a nice rollercoaster ever since."

Lee's initial insecurities over his potential NRL career began when the Raiders' feeder system included Intrust Super Cup outfit Souths Logan. 

"To be honest, when I was playing at Souths Logan I knew the under-20s was a possibility but I never thought I'd be able to graduate into the Raiders' NRL side," Lee said. 

"To now have the chance at playing in a preliminary final against the top team is incredible. The camaraderie among the group now is pretty strong and it's showing on and off the field.

"I've been down here for six years now and Canberra is pretty much my home away from home." 

Get Storm v Raiders tickets now

Game on. Data off.

Stream every NRL game, including finals, live and data free with a 2016 Footy Pass, exclusive to Telstra mobile.

Watch all the NRL action live on your compatible tablet or mobile device with data-free streaming on your Telstra mobile plan.

Get your 2016 Footy Pass now!

For use in Australia only.