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Homesick Lee rockets into his Raiders debut

Date

Jon Tuxworth

Edrick Lee runs the ball ruring the Canberra Raiders v New Zealand Warriors clash at Canberra Stadium in April.

Edrick Lee runs the ball ruring the Canberra Raiders v New Zealand Warriors clash at Canberra Stadium in April. Photo: Stuart Walmsley

He's rated a future superstar, but gun Canberra rookie Edrick Lee almost quit the club last year after taking a ''rocket'' from Raiders development officer David Hamilton to heart.

Lee, who will make his NRL debut against South Sydney tomorrow night, was one of a handful of Toyota Cup players that Hamilton put on notice last year, frustrated he wasn't making the most of his considerable talent.

Hamilton coached the Raiders' under-20s side last season, and said Lee walked into his office demanding to go back home to Queensland after the spray.

But it was the tough love the exciting outside back needed, and has helped him develop into one of the game's most outstanding prospects.

''I put a rocket up him one time, and he was ready to go [home to Brisbane],'' Hamilton said.

''Not long after he came in to have a chat with me and I told him the only reason I did that is because I saw the enormous potential in him.

''He came in and said 'Hammo, I'm keen on going home' and I told him you have to work hard because it's not easy making it to the NRL.

''I questioned him whether he realised he knew how good he could be, and I think that's all he needed to hear.''

Lee will play on the wing against the Rabbitohs, and is the major beneficiary of the axing of star duo Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson for alcohol breaches.

His combination of speed, size and strength has allowed him to dominate the Toyota Cup competition this year.

Hamilton believes the 196cm cousin of NBA star Patrick Mills is ready to take the massive step into the NRL.

''He just has massive raw potential, if he works really, really hard he could be something special,'' Hamilton said.

''To do what he's doing this weekend is credit to him, and he's definitely put the work in.''

Raiders legend Kenny Nagas was also hugely influential in convincing fellow indigenous outside back Lee to remain in Canberra. Nagas also moved from Queensland to join the Raiders, and made a point of nurturing Lee during his role as a Toyota Cup assistant coach last year. As a result, Lee signed a two-year deal with the Raiders in March.

''Kenny was outstanding for him, he knows how hard it is for them to be away from home,'' Hamilton said. ''I know he [Nagas] wanted to go home heaps of times himself when he was younger … and I know he helped Eddie big time.''

It's raised quite regularly that Brisbane snapped up star centre Jack Reed from under the nose of the Raiders. But Canberra has exacted revenge after the Broncos apparently overlooked Lee during his junior days in Brisbane.

Aged 17 in 2010, Lee was playing in the city's division two competition for Mt Gravatt, situated in the Broncos' official catchment area, when he was spotted by Souths Logan scout Brian Edwards.

Edwards had noticed Lee's potential three years earlier, and was staggered he had missed selection for Easts under-18 Mal Meninga Cup side. He threw Lee into the Magpies under-20 squad, and it took just eight games before Edwards was on the phone to Hamilton.

''I rang Hammo and said you'd better have a careful look at him, my eyes don't lie - this kid's got something,'' Edwards said yesterday. ''They [Brisbane] obviously had people working for them at Easts, and yes it surprised me [he was overlooked]. Hammo decided let's give him a crack at Canberra.''

TOMORROW

NRL Round 12: Rabbitohs v Raiders at ANZ Stadium, 7.30pm. TV Time: Live on WIN.

2 comments so far

  • What a pity supercoach furner is going to play edric lee out of position. After dropping two of the raiders best for breaking an alchohol ban that had already expired the week before. Don't go to anymore home games till furner is gone. That is the only way to defeat the Queanbeyan cancer that is destroying a once great club. Ricky stuart would mould this exciting young team into real contenders. I hear that the roosters are sniffing around dugan and ferguson already. Who would blame them. The raiders management and coaching are the joke of the game.

    Commenter
    pete
    Date and time
    May 24, 2012, 9:40AM
    • Let's hope he does a ''Bradley Clyde''. (I can still remember barking: ''who's bloody Bradley Clyde'' when it was announced over the radio just before the start of play one Sunday afternoon in the 80s that he was to take whoever's place as outside centre.)

      That doesn't let David Furner off the hook. The only ones he's let down by axing Ferguson and Dugan in the interests of his ridiculous ''club culture'' theory are US: the long-suffering Raiders' supporters. And what a time to potentially have our team humiliated by Souths: its rare appearance on free-to-air TV.

      I'm interested in watching our best players on the field, not in what they do off the field. If ''club culture'' is so important to Mr Furner, then hit them with a bloody big fine. Don't wreck the game for its supporters.

      Commenter
      Eudaimonia
      Location
      Kingston
      Date and time
      May 24, 2012, 1:49PM

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