Every year during pre-season, Edrick Lee writes down three goals he wants to achieve.
This year there were several curve balls thrown at the 28-year-old that meant he thought his top goal of donning a Queensland Maroons jersey was dashed.
But hard work and support from loved ones has landed the Newcastle Knights flyer a place in the team and jersey of his own.
"Obviously I'm excited. It's definitely a huge honour to get presented this jersey. Puts me one step closer to living out my dream," Lee said after receiving his jersey from Dane Gagai.
"My first goal was State of Origin... through injury, that got a line through it. But I've done a 180 and managed to get the rubber out and rub that out and write it back down again.
"There will be a tick next to it now so I'm really just going to enjoy it, enjoy the moment and really soak it all up.
"I didn't in my wildest dreams think I'd be in camp, be named to debut. I just wanted to get back on the field and just make sure I played with a smile on my face this year. I managed to do that the back half of the year and this is a nice reward for all the hardship I've had to go through."
Injury has been an obstacle Lee has had to overcome; but the talented winger, whose cousin Brenko Lee has also been named to debut, has endured much more. Lee lost both parents within 12 months of each other.
"My parents will be watching from the heavens above. It's probably been the toughest thing away from football, losing the old man last year and my mum this year. Losing them in the space of a year has been tough," Lee said.
"Obviously with the restrictions we had this year with COVID, I wasn't able to see my mum this whole year. To hear the news she passed... to have to come up and have to deal with it, I heavily relied on Brenko and family members to try and get me through that period.
"I never thought this day would happen... I got injured throughout the year as well. I just thought everything was crashing down and I didn't know how to pick myself up. I didn't know how to cope with it. But I managed to really talk to my circle and just focus on being in the present and making them proud."
Lee said being told by coach Wayne Bennett he was playing was a step towards making them proud.
"Wanye mentioned it to me, in the fashion of Wayne, how he does it... he sort of leads you in a little bit, so I wasn't too sure," Lee said.
"It really hit home at captain's run when he officially gave me the news. I thought he was joking with me because he had that little smirk on his face. I didn't know how to take it at first but obviously once we got into training it hit me and I realised there was a big game ahead at Suncorp. At home. I'm excited.
"Now I'll fall into routine and prepare the same way as I would for a normal game."
Lee, who has scored 59 tries in 116 NRL appearances, reinforced he was determined to make his parents proud alongside cousin Brenko; he said it meant a lot to debut with his cousin.
"It's crazy. I never thought it would happen at this level," Lee said.
"His dad and my dad are brothers. We've been doing sleep overs for as long as I can remember. Either I was at his house or he was at my house. We've always had the ambition to do everything together. We never thought rugby league would work out for both of us. It's pretty surreal. I'm so happy.
"When we were younger we just wanted to play together at our local club... local footy, play together. We're a few years apart so we've always had a dream of playing together. We managed to do it at an NRL level in Canberra.
"To do it for our state, in front family in friends, in front of a home crowd, there's no bigger occasion.
"I'm looking forward to it... it's crazy thinking about it. Bring it on."