Two Dolphins gurus give Brenko Lee a healing rebirth
Dolphins centre Brenko Lee has a finely tuned body like an elite racing car but he can't bluff coach Wayne Bennett or his right-hand man Jeremy Hickmans when he needs "a service".
Lee doesn't want to bluff them either. He just wants to play regular footy after two seasons in the rugby league wilderness.
The 27-year-old has been superb at right centre for the Dolphins in their opening two rounds and will feature against Newcastle away on Friday night.
He had a career-best season in 2020 when he won the NRL grand final with Melbourne and earned his State of Origin debut for the Maroons in the series decider.
Due to nagging soft tissue injuries in his legs, Lee did not play a game in 2021 and managed just eight at Brisbane in 2022.
Lee said his battles over two years had been "frustrating", trying to push through his injuries when he should have been "taking a step back" to limit his load.
"That's were Wayne has been really good," Lee said.
"When you feel a bit sore or niggly he manages you really well to make sure that come game day you are at your best and can do your best for long periods. Wayne knows how to get you right for the big game."
Dolphins head of performance Hickmans has worked beside Bennett for years and Lee credits him for keeping him honest.
"He's been awesome. You can't bluff him. He knows when you are bluffing," Lee said.
"One thing about Jeremy is if you work hard you get rewarded.
"I do everything (at training) that the team does but once I feel unsure I have to pull back a bit. I can't push through it because that is how I tear something, or how something else tears when I try and push through the pain barrier."
Lee had ice on his calf this week at training as a precaution saying Bennett had his workloads in hand.
"I let Wayne make the last call. If he thinks you are training alright he will let you ice up. If he thinks you needs more out of you he will tell you to do some more," he said.
The Knights are injury-ravaged but Lee said the Dolphins had the utmost respect for them.
"These are the hard ones because ... it is our first away game," he said.
"Everyone thinks we should win but it is not that easy. You've got to earn the right to win."