Lee earns big rap from Meninga
Raiders junior Edrick Lee was one of the Queensland under-20s best on Saturday night. Photo: Ryan Pierse
Mal Meninga has likened Raiders centre Edrick Lee to a young Greg Inglis after his superb two-try performance in the under-20 State of Origin clash on Saturday night.
Lee was dynamic for Queensland in its 18-14 loss to NSW, scoring two tries, including a brilliant long-range effort in the first half.
The indigenous 19-year-old palmed off a defender before racing 70 metres to score, an effort which clearly impressed Meninga.
Meninga addressed the Maroons before the inaugural interstate clash at Penrith, and reserved special praise for Lee after the game.
''He [Meninga] just said I had a good performance, and he said that in a way I'm starting to look like Greg Inglis,'' Lee said yesterday.
''Of course I'm nowhere near his level but I've watched a few of his [Inglis's] games and he's got that lethal fend and speed, and I'm hoping to utilise those same qualities in the Toyota Cup. Mal pops into training every now and then and tells us a few things at training.''
Lee has been so impressive this season the Raiders rewarded him with a two-year contract extension last month which ties him to the club until the end of the 2014 season.
The Mount Gravatt junior is now content in the capital, and the Raiders have Toyota Cup assistant coach Ken Nagas to thank.
The Raiders' last great indigenous outside back, 1994 premiership star Nagas helped Lee overcome severe homesickness when he moved to Canberra last year.
Nagas had also taken time to adjust to leaving his family and friends in the Queensland town of Bundaberg, and helped Lee work through his loneliness.
''I was homesick and talking to Kenny Nagas, he told me it happens to all indigenous kids coming down here and living away from home,'' Lee said.
''The first month was tough, but Kenny talked me through it and said once I got through that tough period, I'd be fine.
''He also demanded I get an electric blanket straight away.
''At first I was like 'it's not that cold now' but he said 'no brother, you wait until the winter comes, you'll be freezing'.''
Lee now lives with two of the Raiders' other indigenous players, first grade hooker Travis Waddell and Toyota Cup speedster Malcolm Congoo.
''We're all Queenslanders and indigenous boys, it just feels like I'm back home with with all my cousins and family living with those guys,'' Lee said.
While Nagas has provided invaluable off-field support, the man who scored 59 tries in 142 games for the Raiders has also been influential in improving Lee's game. At 196cm and 96kg Lee has the imposing frame to dominate a match, and Nagas has helped him smooth his rough edges.
Lee was a promising basketballer during his childhood and his football development is a work in progress.
''Kenny's helped my shape and positioning in attack, also my width and depth and the lines I run,'' Lee said. ''I'm still optimistic [about playing first grade this year], and if it happens it happens.
''But I'm just worried about performing consistently and then the rewards will come.''