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Melbourne prop Tui Kamikamica has "climbed a mountain" to make it back into the line-up for this year's NRL finals after missing the Storm's 2020 success through injury.
The hulking Fijian has been named on the bench for Saturday's preliminary against Penrith at Suncorp Stadium, fighting his way into the side after back surgery last July left him bedridden for two weeks.
The 27-year-old returned with three regular rounds remaining last season, but he hurt his ankle which ultimately meant he missed out on the grand-final squad that downed the Panthers.
"I had a bulging disc injury where I couldn't leave my bed for two weeks and couldn't even walk, it was a tough period to be honest," Kamikamica said of the surgery.
"It was the first time I ever had to have surgery and I didn't know what was going to happen.
"But I kept thinking about my family back home in Fiji, I just wanted to make them proud and that kept pushing to get back out to play footy."
Justin Olam brought his Storm teammate three meals a day and admits he was worried about his playing future, although hiding his fears from Kamikamica.
"I was definitely worried about him but I didn't want to show that," the star centre said.
"The thing that stood out to me was that he was so positive - I'd go into the room and see him, me feeling sorry for him and he'll just be positive.
"He always kept saying that this is his mountain to climb and to his credit he did it and I'm so proud and happy for him."
Kamikamica says a place in the grand final would be extra special after what he's endured.
As well as his injuries, he hasn't been able to return to his homeland and see family for almost two years, only getting to know his baby niece through Facetime.
His mother is a schoolteacher there while his father is a farmer.
"I'm just so happy I'm here now and a couple of days away from playing in the prelim," he said.
"I just wanted to come back this year and play some good footy and to be honest I'm just grateful to get this opportunity."