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Brenko Lee rises from 'rock bottom' to NRL finale

Brenko Lee of the Storm is tackled during the NRL Preliminary Final match between the Melbourne Storm and the Canberra Raiders. Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Brenko Lee had given up.

Unwanted by Gold Coast after the NRL club collected the wooden spoon last year, Lee unravelled during a soul-crushing trial with rugby's Melbourne Rebels.

He'd stacked on more than 10kg and the former teenage prodigy was preparing for the 9am-5pm grind back in Brisbane, adamant he'd played his last game of NRL.

"I went down there for two weeks and remember coming back and saying 'I'm done'," the 25-year-old told AAP.

"It was the hardest two weeks of my life; I didn't know what was going on, had no clue, I was so lost.

"I felt terrible, useless and so down on myself."

But a year on and Lee is preparing for an NRL grand final against Penrith as Melbourne's reborn right centre.

He also looms as Queensland's State of Origin answer in an injury-hit backline.

Lee has former Titans assistant Craig Hodges to thank, the mentor's move to Storm feeder club Easts in the Queensland Cup setting up a dramatic resurgence.

"I was just having a beer and Craig called me - I was over it and didn't want to waste his or my time," Lee said.

"But he talked me into it, so I came to Easts and straight away he booked a flight to Melbourne.

"I was sitting on the plane thinking 'this is your last chance'."

Lee had barely slipped into his training gear at what would be his fourth NRL club before coach Craig Bellamy set the tone.

"I remember him telling me I'm one of the most talented centres he's coached in a long time, but you'll have to earn your spot," Lee said.

"That's the first time a coach ever said that to me and straight away that made me feel like I was wanted here.

"And you don't want to let him down because he's the hardest worker out of everyone."

"Now I feel like I've earnt the right to be here and that's why I'm playing like I am."

The passing of Lee's grandmother compounded to an already bleak 2019 but this week his bottom lip is quivering with excitement.

"She was one of my best mates; I was rock bottom last year so to think what I'm doing 12 months on, you wouldn't dream of it, it doesn't happen like that," he said.

"It's all about Penrith right now but (beyond that) there is Origin and my older cousin Edrick is already in the squad. "If I get the opportunity too it'd just be the best thing for our family."

Meanwhile, Melbourne have named an unchanged 17 for the title showdown at ANZ Stadium.

Tui Kamikamica has been included on the extended bench with the Fiji prop returning from one-match ban and ankle injury, replacing Chris Lewis.