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Panthers lock Hame Sele.

It took one phone call from Phil Gould to convince Penrith recruit Hame Sele he remained very much part of rugby league and just 17 minutes for him to play first grade again.

The Kogarah junior jumped at the opportunity to shift to Sydney's west in the off-season after he was unwanted by the Dragons, a decision that left him devastated and contemplating walking away from the game.

Trent Merrin's departure a month into Penrith's pre-season opened the door for the 22-year-old, who represented NSW City in the final City-Country fixture in 2017.

"It was a big shock to me not getting games last year at the Dragons," Sele told NRL.com from Bathurst.

"I was gutted to hear them say they didn't want me. It broke my heart.

"I wasn't thinking of playing anywhere else after that. I have a daughter and she was about eight months then, and all I was thinking was how am I going to afford to pay for things?

"I was starting to look for jobs. Once we heard from Gus he said that Trent was heading overseas and there was an opening there it was like the spark I needed."

Panthers v Storm - Round 3

The start to Sele's career at Penrith couldn't have ended in more dramatic fashion in round one with the prop leaving the paddock in severe discomfort with an arm injury.

He was told on the spot he'd suffered a broken arm. A week later he was back on the paddock, cleared, and leaving commentators and those that hadn't kept up to date with his injury, confused.

"It's all good now, a bit of a carry on in the end … it was a bad cork," Sele said.

"Going off what the doctor said they thought there was a fracture in the radius. I went and got scans and got some good news.

"It was a relief. I got 15 minutes in before it happened and thought the worst. It would've upset me if I had to miss a few games.

"I'm loving it out here with the new club, there's a lot of new faces and players I've grown up watching like James Maloney and James Tamou."

The Panthers face their biggest test of the season so far on Saturday night with their clash against Melbourne in Bathurst.

"It's a big test to see where we're at and all the boys are looking forward to seeing where we can set our bar," Sele said.

"We haven't been at our best the last couple of weeks but this isn't the time of the year to be at your best either."