If, as the old saying goes, you're only as good as your last game, then Brenko Lee would be entering the 2022 season on an absolute high, coming off a State of Origin debut for the Maroons under the guidance of the legendary Wayne Bennett.
That euphoric moment came three weeks after Lee had savoured victory in the 2020 grand final as part of a star studded Melbourne Storm side that included Cameron Smith, Josh Addo-Carr, Cameron Munster and Jesse Bromwich.
It seemed the stars had well and truly aligned for the former Raider, Bulldog and Titan after a tumultuous seven-year journey that had begun as a teenager in Canberra playing outside Jarrod Croker and Jack Wighton.
What followed in 2021 was a horror season cruelled by calf injuries as Lee failed to make it on to the paddock for the Storm before heading north to join Kevin Walters' Broncos.
Given that it's 15 months since he last laced a boot, Lee could be forgiven for being a tad apprehensive ahead of Brisbane's trial game against Wynnum Manly this weekend, but the 26-year-old has put in the hard yards and can't wait to rip in.
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"I was a bit nervous coming back to pre-season to full training but I feel like I'm ready to go," said Lee, who has signed a two-year deal at the Broncos.
"Finally coming home to Brisbane where I'm from has got me in a good space mentally to try and play well.
"In Melbourne I had a big family in the footy team but here I have my mum and dad and brothers and sisters and that helps clear my mind from footy on long days and hard days.
"For us it all starts with these trials. You're kidding yourself if you say you don't want to win a trial because every time you pull on the Broncos jersey it means business and you put your heart and soul in for the club."
After two seasons in the doldrums the Broncos have put together a squad they believe can take them back to the finals, with premiership-winning halfback Adam Reynolds calling the shots and a star studded backline that includes Kotoni Staggs, Jamayne Isaako and the promising Selwyn Cobbo.
Leading the way up front are Payne Haas, Jordan Riki and another man who knows what it takes to win a title in former Panther Kurt Capewell.
The building blocks have been put in place for an improved season and Lee is adamant there will be no excuses if the six-time premiers aren't in the mix come September.
"No team should say they are rebuilding - you are here to win a premiership whenever you play," said Lee, who is looking to stake a claim for a centre spot.
"Last year is last year, we've forgotten about that and we just want to start well.
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"I've been talking to the boys about principles, especially in defence. After being in that Storm system, I just want to try and help out as much as I can. I know a lot of stuff about how the Storm defend so I want to help out the person next to me.
"If someone gets beaten it looks bad on everyone so I just try to help out as much as I can, especially on the short side plays just so people understand their roles.
"It's great having guys like Darius Boyd and Sam Thaiday helping us out, guys who have made this club what it is.
"You've always got to think of the past before you build the future and remember who dug the well. You want to play well but you also want to make them proud knowing that they have left the jersey in a better place.
"This club has a rich history. So many superstars have come from this club and it has become the club it is because of them. Now we are here to build a future for the guys who come after us."