After a teenage Brenko Lee made a few mistakes on debut for Canberra in 2014, Jack Wighton was quick to back his then-teammate.
"Everyone remembers the errors, but the great dummy-half runs and the runs he took in our yardage were unbelievable," Wighton said following Lee's maiden game - a 22-14 loss to the Bulldogs.
Both men have emerged stronger from adversity in recent years. They're now set to go head-to-head in Wednesday's Ampol State of Origin series opener at the Adelaide Oval.
Lee has been named to earn his first Queensland cap and, despite suffering a groin strain at training on Tuesday, is expected to play right centre - directly opposite Dally M Medal winner Wighton, who cemented himself on NSW's left edge last year.
Match: Blues v Maroons
Game 1 -
Venue: Adelaide Oval, Adelaide
The pair formed a friendship during Lee's Raiders stint from 2013-16.
"I love Brenks. He is a good kid. [That] all boils down to nothing on Wednesday night though," Wighton, 27, said on Monday.
"[His time at Canberra was] so long ago, he's evolved and come a long way. You take nothing out of that and play it by ear.
"He's always been the same kid and always had the talent, everyone knows that."
Blues v Maroons - Origin I
Wighton has enjoyed 25-year-old Lee's "cracker" journey of being uncontracted this time last year after parting ways with the Titans to becoming a Storm premiership winner and Origin player.
"He's always been chasing his tail. He's had a few little downfalls here and there so it's definitely been a good story this year," Wighton said.
"I can only speak from when he was down there with us, but he has always been a good kid."
Lee could be staring across at another familiar face in Adelaide with his Melbourne teammate Josh Addo-Carr on the Blues' left wing.
"He's had a great season, obviously winning the premiership ... He's just reaping those rewards," Addo-Carr said of Lee, adding that he was most impressed by his defensive development in 2020.
"Obviously Craig [Bellamy, Storm coach] prides himself on what the team does in defence and [Lee] has improved a lot in that area."
Elsewhere, Wighton indicated he may be given a licence to "roam" and said it's been a smooth transition back to centre after completing his second season as Canberra's five-eighth.
"I just play what I see, if I have to roam I have to roam and if not I am just doing my job," he said.
"As long as I am doing my main job I will be happy ... We've been doing some good work this week, getting to know my half and winger.
"The comms are good, a lot of defensive work. So I'm feeling good about the game."