When the Storm lost two premiership winning centres in Will Chambers and Curtis Scott at the end of 2019, legendary mentor Craig Bellamy didn’t go to market in search of big names.
The multiple premiership winner did what he always does – went in search of a journeyman who hadn’t realised his true potential yet in a bid to solve the team’s three-quarter woes.
Brenko Lee fit the bill in every way.
A gun player from an early age, Lee represented the Junior Kangaroos and made his NRL debut while still a teenager at Canberra in 2014.
But in the six years since his first NRL game Lee was accused of taking his foot off the pedal and started to fall into the ‘fringe first grader’ category. He found himself on the Gold Coast and was let go by the 2019 wooden spooners last season without tasting a victory.
Smith’s Waiters impression
He played just six matches and started three of those from the bench. When he was given the chop from the glitter strip he hadn’t experienced a win in the NRL in nearly two years and thought his league career in Australia may be over.
However on Sunday, Lee became one of a small group of players who have gone from being part of wooden spoon team to winning an NRL title the next season.
“Not only has he found himself a premiership within 12 months at the Melbourne Storm but he’s also found himself in Wayne Bennett’s 27-man squad for Queensland and he’s a real option to play in the centres in the Adelaide opener,” Storm legend Billy Slater told Wide World of Sports for Billy’s Breakdown.
But his rise to premiership winner was far from smooth with Bellamy showing faith in the centre through injury after handing the 25-year-old his Storm debut in round four.
He suffered a hamstring problem at training that saw him miss three matches and then he a hand injury against the Broncos in round 11, forcing him out for another three weeks of action.
Yet the belief and confidence instilled into Lee worked a treat with the former Raider exhibiting consistent form in the back half of the year.
According to Slater, Bellamy has a successful record in “extracting the best out of his journeymen.”
The club great pointed to the likes of forward Ben Cross who won a premiership in 2007 after an inconsistent time in Canberra and Jaiman Lowe, who had played nine inconsistent years of NRL only to win a title in two years with the Storm. Those are just two of Bellamy’s success stories when it comes to super-charging mediocre careers.
Celebrations following Storm victory
“Probably the best story of Bellamy’s journeymen is Brian Norrie. He played seven games for the Dragons, 28 games for the Panthers and 25 games for the Sharks,” Slater said.
“He retired at the end of 2009 from the NRL and took up a captain coach role with the Wagga Kangaroos in the Group Nine division of the Riverina.
“When Craig Bellamy gave him a call before Christmas and said ‘Do you want to come down to the Melbourne Storm?’ He spent five years with the club and was an integral member of the 2012 premiership team.
“(Bellamy) has a great ability to simplify their roles, give them an easy task a small focus. It’s a testament to the journeyman he has brought to the club.”
For the latest news and updates, follow us on Google News. Also, if you like our efforts, consider sharing this story with your friends, this will encourage us to bring more exciting updates for you.