Rey Lee Lo hailed as one of Welsh rugby’s overseas greats
Welsh rugby has seen some outstanding overseas imports, with the likes of Xavier Rush, Gary Teichmann, Jerry Collins, Percy Montgomery, Marty Holah and Regan King to name but a few.
Speak to anyone at the Arms Park and they will rank Rey Lee Lo right up there with those big names. The Samoan international centre reaches a notable landmark this weekend when he makes his 150th appearance for Cardiff Rugby in their BKT United Rugby Championship clash at home to Ulster.
It was back in 2015 he came on board from the Hurricanes of New Zealand and he has proved to be a priceless acquisition with his all-round class. He turned 37 last month, but he is still delivering the goods week-in, week-out.
Placing him amid the pantheon of great overseas players in Wales down the years, Director of Rugby Dai Young said: “You can’t think of many that have come and done a better job than Rey. He is definitely up there, without a shadow of a doubt.
“He’s been fantastic, he’s been consistent, an ever-present and he deserves all the accolades he gets.
“I am sure the boys will want to go out and do him proud because they know he has always got their back and he’s always somebody you can rely on to be 8 out of 10 every match. He very rarely has a bad game for you.
“You talk to other coaches when they play us and the first name on their sheet as a threat is Rey. Their view would be you have got to shut him down, you have got to stop him playing. When other teams are talking about Cardiff’s threats, he would always be at the forefront of everybody’s thinking.
“The influence he has had here over the last few seasons has been huge. He’s not somebody that talks a lot, but when he says something people listen and he’s always giving little words of advice to the youngsters who all look up to him and respect him. He’s been a big help to those young guys coming through.
“His consistency is always there and the respect he carries within the group and within the staff is second to none. He is still playing good rugby. He is a really good yardstick to have around training and certainly in games. He leads from the front. Hopefully the boys can do him proud on the weekend because he deserves it.”
Providing the players’ perspective, Cardiff Rugby Wales prop Rhys Carre said: “I agree with Dai, Rey has got to be up there.
“He just provides so much consistency. He’s been here seven or eight years and if he’s fit he starts. That’s a testament to him as a bloke and as a player. If you are a nailed on starter for any side, that just shows how good you are for the team.
“He’s like a rock in that 13 channel and we are lucky to have him. If I get to 37 and I’m still playing like him, I will be very happy.”
Unfortunately, Lee Lo won’t have his long-time centre pal Willis Halaholo alongside him in the squad to face Ulster at the Arms Park on Saturday evening.
The luckless Welsh international had been hoping to return from the hamstring damage he suffered in October, but an Achilles injury suffered in training looks to have ended his season.
Fly-half Jarrod Evans and flanker Ellis Jenkins have being passed fit to take on the visitors from Belfast, who recorded a notable 31-24 victory away to the Cell C Sharks last weekend.
Looking ahead to the game, Dai Young commented: “I have got no doubt we will have a fantastic crowd. They have turned up in their numbers every game we have played here. They are really vocal and really get behind the team.
“This is our last home league game of the season and it would be great to sign off with a real good performance and to say a real thank you to the crowd after the game for their support. So we are hoping they will come out in their numbers and get behind the team, as they have all year.”
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