Edrick Lee may be off to the Redcliffe Dolphins next year but his name will be forever etched in the Newcastle Knights history books after his five-try haul in the 38-12 win over the Gold Coast.
Lee, 29, left behind a group of six Knights players on four tries in a single game - the last being James McManus nine years ago - to be the only Knight with five.
"Obviously, it's pretty special. Any time you cross the stripe one time, that's pretty special but to get five here in Newcastle with its rich history is awesome," said Lee after his Friday night special.
"I wasn't conscious of the record. I was just in the moment of the game."
It certainly is a moment many will remember as the Brisbane-born player is off to the Dolphins on a two-year deal from 2023.
Lee's part in the 38-12 win did bring extra smiles to the fans' faces at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle, where the Knights have only won two of their seven home games so far.
Lee's efforts also brought relief to himself, his partner and family, after what he described as a lonely 2021 when he didn't play a game due to surgery on damaged bones in his left foot.
When the COVID shutdown happened in Sydney and the Knights moved to Queensland to complete the 2021 season, Lee stayed behind rehabbing his foot on his own.
"It was a different experience. It was a bit tough and I felt isolated. Tonight's made it all worthwhile," he said after missing the first six games of the 2022 season as well.
"To put games back-to-back is more special for me. Just to see the full circle and where I am at now is one I'm grateful for."
His injury run led the Knights to offer him only a train-and-trial contract this year.
"Once I went through the surgery route I was pretty confident I could get back to my best," said the man who represented the Queensland Maroons in 2020.
"It was an opportunity I wanted to take as I felt I owed a debt to the club given the injury run I had. I just wanted to give back," Lee said.
"I've got to give a shout to my teammates because everyone was still checking on me when they were up on Sunshine Coast.
"That made me want to stay and back myself to earn the train-and-trial deal."
Lee now has nine tries so far in 2022 to become the Knights leading try-scorer for the year.
Australian Associated Press
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