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Lee-Lo ready for renewed Cardiff charge after BaaBaas experience

First Team News | 1st July 2022

After ticking off another career goal last week, Cardiff centre Rey Lee-Lo is ready to get stuck into the pre-season action ahead of his eighth season with the Blue and Blacks.

Alongside four of his club team-mates, the Samoan international pulled on the famous black and white jersey of the Barbarians during Saturday’s win over Spain in Gijon. The side, skippered by former Wales international, Hadleigh Parkes, also included stars such as Charlie Faumuina, Joe Tekori, Devin Toner and Tom Wood.

Lee-Lo’s room-mate for the week was Scott Andrews, making his final professional appearance following a career which included 14 Wales caps and 189 Cardiff first team outings.

The centre played his part as the BaaBaas brushed aside the Spaniards, with fellow Blue and Black, Owen Lane, amongst the scorers.

Lee-Lo admits it was a week to remember in Spain and he felt honoured and privileged to become the latest Cardiff player to represent the iconic invitation side.

“It was a really good week with the team, getting the opportunity to meet a number of different players from other clubs. As you’d expect with the BaaBaa’s, we didn’t do too much training but it was a real chilled out week with a few ‘coffees’ every now and again,” joked the centre.

“It was a real honour and privilege to represent the club. The back of the jersey had names of other players who had been there and done it, and that includes some real legends of the game.

“Representing the BaaBaas was something I always wanted to do so when I got the call from Mulvers [former Cardiff head coach, John Mulvihill], I asked Dai and he was happy for me to go.

“It’s not like a normal week of training in the build-up to a game. There are some walkthroughs every now and again but you mostly enjoy the company of the other boys and switch off before we start in pre-season again.

“Apart from the other Cardiff boys, I’d also played with Tim Nanai-Williams and Ahsee Tuala from back home in the past, and it was good to play with them again. We had a good mix of boys, including some playing their final games before retirement, and in the centre I played with the big man, Hadleigh Parkes. It was the first time I played with him, rather than against, which was a cool experience.

“There were some good players in the team, and I loved playing with them. It was just a lovely week all round.

“I was rooming with big Bubba [Scott Andrews] and he was a good roomie. It was good to be part of his final professional game. It’s a great way for him to bow out, as well as some of the other boys who were retiring.

“Laney then turned up on the Wednesday, after an injury earlier in the week, and had one or two training runs before heading straight into the game.

“When he rocked up, the boys had already lined up a couple of punishments for him for his late arrival. He’s definitely someone who brought a lot of energy off the field, but thankfully he had the speed to chase down their wings on the day too.

“It was good to have a young man like that, and he’s already ticked off that experience.

“There were heaps of running in the game, so I was definitely tired but the end, but it was good to be back at that international level again for the first time since the World Cup in 2019. 

“It was different, it was fast but the legs are still working so that’s the main thing.”

Lee-Lo and his Cardiff team-mates returned to pre-season training earlier this week, with the Samoan heading into his eighth campaign at the club, having arrived from Hurricanes in 2015.

As one of the most experienced players in the squad, he’s excited by the challenge of helping young centres such as Mason Grady and Max Llewellyn to make their next steps in the game, while ensuring Cardiff put a disappointing 2021/22 season behind them.

“Safe to say when I rocked up to pre-season on Monday, the body was tired and sore. But I’m in a place now where I’m ready to get stuck into pre-season with the boys,” added Lee-Lo, who was instrumental in Cardiff’s 2018 Challenge Cup success.

“I’m looking forward to the next few weeks. We don’t need to speak about last season, everyone knows what happened.

“So now we’re trying to have fun, take it day-by-day and week-by-week and get stuck into pre-season with the boys. 

“There’s a heap of hard work, so it’s important to have some fun where possible, but I always enjoy this time of year.  It should be a good pre-season that leads into the new campaign, and we want to head into the competitive games in a good place.

“We have a good mix here between the more experience boys and younger players. There’s some exciting names joining but you also look at the younger boys coming through like Mason Grady, Theo Cabango and Max Llewellyn.

“These boys are still young and learning the game, so for us it’s important to help them out where possible.

“We want them to keep building because they’ve got such a long time in front of them here, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they can bring into the new season.

“One of the main things I enjoy now is helping younger players where I can, particularly Max and Mason because they’re midfielders too. 

“Willis is another who has been around the game for a while and chips in with building their game and confidence up. You want them to express themselves because they’re good players with a lot of potential, both on and off the field.

“For me, I had a similar experience in learning so much from being around Conrad Smith and Ma’a Nonu. So it’s important for me to keep passing advice down to the younger generation.

“Mason is only 20 years old, and is a big old boy, so he’s looking ready to take the next steps and we want to do what we can to bring him through.

“I arrived in Wales in 2015, so I’m heading into my eighth season at the club. That’s a long time but it’s gone so quickly. 

“This is my home from home now, and the family has settled down here in Wales.  I’m doing everything I can to help the team.”