Edrick Lee returns for the Raiders on Saturday. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
For a cult figure with the most lauded flat top in the game, it's hard to believe Canberra Raiders youngster Edrick Lee is rugby league's forgotten man.
After just 12 games the past two years, the winger will make a surprise return from an ankle injury initially diagnosed as season-ending against Parramatta at Darwin on Saturday.
It's fitting Lee makes his return in the same game as centre Jack Wighton (broken thumb), who like Lee has endured his fair share of injury setbacks just as he was set to take the NRL by storm.
Lee suffered a serious ankle ligament injury in round three against Gold Coast, and has played just 12 games since the start of 2013 after breaking his arm in round nine last year.
The 21-year-old has scored 16 tries in 19 matches and the struggling Raiders have sorely missed his X-factor and finishing ability.
Similarly Wighton, also 21, broke his leg late last season and has played 33 games in the past two years.
The pair have provided constant support to each other through their dark moments, and Lee admitted he was shocked when told he would return this year.
"They said it was season-ending, and to be back for the last few games, I'm more excited than anything,'' he said.
"Last year was the first major injury I've had and I didn't know how to handle it. With this injury I just knew what to do, and how to deal with it mentally. I tried to be upbeat and not worry about it.
"Jacko and I have been talking to each other a lot about our injuries. It's a good thing he and myself are returning in the same game.''
The duo's return will also help shore up Canberra's frail edge defence which has been exposed badly recently, particularly last week's 54-18 home loss to New Zealand Warriors.
"As soon as the doctors said it was 100 per cent and ready to go, it was surprising for the Raiders staff and myself to hear,'' Lee said. "There really wasn't a secret to getting back early, but there's no better way to come back than an away trip to Darwin.''
Lee admitted he was disappointed he would not get the chance to cross playing alongside cousin Brenko off his bucket list this weekend.
The 18-year-old will miss the Eels clash after aggravating his hamstring injury in his return against the Warriors.
"That's one thing I really want to do, and hopefully it happens next year,'' Lee said.