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Ageless Lee-Lo one of the all-time greats

30 May 2024 5 minute read
Rey Lee-Lo of Cardiff Rugby. Photo ©INPHO/Andy Watts

Simon Thomas

Rey Lee-Lo has been hailed as one of Welsh rugby’s greatest ever overseas imports as he heads into Judgement Day continuing to defy Old Father Time.

The Samoan international is coming to the end of his ninth season with Cardiff Rugby, having joined from the Hurricanes of New Zealand in 2015.

He’s now 38, but you wouldn’t rule out the possibility of him staying on for another season, such is his enduring class.

He demonstrated that ageless quality in the BKT URC Round 17 victory over the Hollywoodbets Sharks in Durban, on his 163rd appearance for the region, and he will again have an important role to play in Saturday’s Judgement Day clash with the Ospreys at the Cardiff City Stadium.


His coach Matt Sherratt can not speak highly enough of a man who has graced Welsh rugby for the best part of a decade with his sliding outside breaks, astute offloading and chainsaw tackling.

“I have never coached a better person than Rey,” says Sherratt, who has worked with him during two spells at the Arms Park.

“Sometimes, when you step away from somewhere, you realise just how good a player is.

“When I went to the Ospreys and Worcester, the first person they all asked about was Rey. They said they didn’t like playing against him. He has got a little bit of fear factor around him in terms of his physicality and what he can do with his footwork and his offloading.

“He has been one of the best centres in the BKT URC for a very long time. His understanding and reading of the game is second to none.

“When Rey is on it, there are not many better players out there, but even more so as a person.

“He has got young kids and spends a lot of time looking after them. He has got stuff going on at home, but then he will be in training the next morning. He is an excellent professional. He is never on the physio bed, he has never once complained.

“I have genuinely never heard him say a negative word about another human being. He is an absolute legend of the club.

“He will get on as well with a 19-year-old as he will with Taulupe Faletau. He is the heartbeat of the changing room. There are not many better people to have inside a rugby club. It’s priceless. He cares enormously about the club.

“For me, he is one of the best signings of a foreign player by any Welsh region ever. He is up there with the best. That’s how much I think of him.”

‘Class act’

Adding his thoughts, Cardiff captain Liam Belcher said: “Rey is a class act. You don’t get many people like that. He just makes you feel welcome, no matter what.

“He is a superstar in what he has done in this shirt. He puts other people and the club before himself, which I have seen on numerous occasions, and it’s quite inspiring, to be honest with you. It’s a big thing for a man to do that. “The first thing he looks to do is help other boys. He has given so much to this club.”

Warm words indeed, but there is no danger of them going to Lee-Lo’s head. You would be hard pressed to meet a more modest or unassuming individual than the man brought up in the village of Vailma, just south of the Samoan capital of Apia.

What comes across most of all is how much he has cherished his career with Cardiff, in the city that has now become home for him and his family.

“This is the longest I have been in one team,” he says.

“To play more than 150 games with one club is big.

“I don’t know where the time has gone, which is crazy. It’s scary sometimes when you look back.

“It’s my ninth season, which is a long time, but I just love this club.

“Since joining, I have been shown such support and loyalty by the club and the amazing fans.

“This is very much home now for me and my family, home away from home. We are settled and love our life here.

“It’s a club and a city that means a lot to me.”

As for his longevity, he says: “I know the age is always going to be around, but I never really worry about it.

“The young boys here keep me going. I am just here to help them out in whatever way I can. That’s my job.

“I am still enjoying it. My body feels good, I am mentally good and I like the style of rugby we are looking to play.

“Plus, my family is happy. That’s the other side of life. As long as my family is happy and I can turn up and play, my job is easy.”

He concluded: “I treat every game as my last game. You never know with rugby. You just keep going. I just take it day by day, week by week, game by game and enjoy every one of them.

“I am very grateful to the man above for the talent I have been blessed with and also to my family who support me every day and allow me to do what I love.”

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