Above: Rey Lee-Lo making a bust against the Crusaders in their pre-season match in Eketahuna in January
Rey Lee-Lo’s welcome return to the Hurricanes this season is only the beginning of a massive 2015 in his rugby career.
The versatile midfielder has already been an integral part of the Hurricanes backline during the early rounds of 2015 and will likely continue to be for the remainder of the season with the necessity to rest key All Blacks during the campaign.
Lee-Lo will start from the bench during tomorrow night’s New Zealand conference encounter with the Blues at FMG stadium in Palmerston North, a role he is quite comfortable with, allowing for Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith to partner up in the midfield.
After a season with the Crusaders, Lee-Lo is relishing being back at the Hurricanes and learning from arguably the best midfield combination in world rugby, Smith and Nonu.
“I’m just learning every day and asking questions from them.
“I’m more than happy, the boys have been doing good the last few weeks, it’s only the start of the season so there’s a long way to go.
“We just need to do the same things we’ve been doing the last few weeks and train hard.”
Lee-Lo plies his provincial trade out of Counties Manukau where his rugby career has blossomed.
The late bloomer only began taking rugby seriously in his late teenage years and has since risen all the way to international ranks, representing his country of birth, Samoa, late in 2014.
Lee-Lo, who appeared in the Jubilee Cup for Marist St Pat's in 2013, credits Counties coach and former Petone player Tana Umaga as a major reason for his successes so far.
“He’s been the biggest role-model of my career, he’s a big man, it’s been good learning off him for the last few years, and he’s got me where I am now.
“I’m just lucky to be coached by one of the best midfielders the All Blacks have had in Tana and then with the Hurricanes having Conrad and Ma’a, I’m just trying to learn everything I can from them,” Lee-Lo said, and learnt he has.
An international call-up for Samoa in 2014 should see Lee-Lo knocking on the door for selection in the world cup squad in England later this year.
“That’s one of my main goals for this year so hopefully the body can handle it and see what happens from there.
“It’s always great to represent your country so I was pretty stoked to be able to do that.”
For now, the Hurricanes’ utility is focussing on the Blues tomorrow night in Palmerston North.
“They’re a good team so it’s going to be a big game for us.
“They’ve lost three or four games but it doesn’t really matter because once they click they’ll probably win the next six games so we don’t want to be the first ones to go down to them,” said Lee-Lo who believes the bye round has given the Hurricanes a chance to freshen up.
Despite the differing starts to the season both teams have had, this match-up is still set to be a titanic slugfest with the Blues desperate to notch up a win and the Hurricanes seeking to keep their %100 win rate intact.
Beyond Super Rugby Rey Lee Lo is linked with the Cardiff Blues club who former Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett has been at the helm of.?
2015 looms as Lee-Lo’s biggest in his career to date, however, Super Rugby is taking precedence for now.