If Edrick Lee hasn’t gotten his head around being a Cronulla Shark yet, then it will hit home with the winger on Saturday night when he runs out against the Canberra Raiders in front of a big crowd at Canberra Stadium.
He’ll face up against new Raiders winger Nick Cotric, who he was trying to stop from pinching his spot on the left wing less than three weeks ago.
Salary cap pressures forced Lee to leave the Raiders and he signed a two-year deal with the Sharks just days before the start of the NRL season.
It opened the door for 18-year-old Cotric making his NRL debut against North Queensland in Townsville last weekend, while Lee suited up for the Sharks for the first time instead.
Lee said it took him some time to get his head around not being a Raider any more – not to mention the fact he’d joined the reigning NRL premiers.
As an unsubtle reminder, he’ll run out against the lime green in front of a crowd his old coach Ricky Stuart was hoping would reach 20,000 as they do the Viking clap.
“It’s weird because I was there [at the Raiders] for a while,” Lee said.
“But I’ve had to get my head around being a Sharkie. It was strange at first to hear it but, throughout that first week, I told myself that I had to move on.
“It was one thing that was hard to realise – I’ve joined a team that won the competition last year and set the benchmark for this year.
“I’ve just got to make sure I transition well here, know my role and perform it. It’s all about moving forward now and getting the win against my old club.”
While he played on the left wing for the Raiders, Lee started his Cronulla career on the right.
It means he’ll avoid taking on the “Leipana” bromance of Jordan Rapana and Joey Leilua, but instead will come up against Cotric – who made a promising debut against the Cowboys.
Lee claimed he knew little of the Raiders’ prodigy, who busted six tackles and carried the ball for 159 metres against North Queensland, but would be doing plenty of video on him – if he can find any on the one-gamer
“I know he’s a local junior, a young lad that came through the ranks. I know that he played in Australian Schoolboys, too,” Lee said.
“Other than that, I don’t know him too well, but he’s got an opportunity now to show what he can do for them. I’m sure I’ll be doing a lot of footage work on him to study up.”
While Lee had a quiet performance in his first outing for the Sharks, carting the ball up for 91 metres off eight runs, Stuart was expecting him to find his form quickly given he was taking on his old side.
“[I’m expecting] his typical performance, he’s a good footy player. He’ll have a great performance, he’s coming back to play against his old club and I’ve got no doubt he’ll be up to play a big game,” Stuart said.
His former teammate and Raiders five-eighth Blake Austin wasn’t looking forward to the prospect of taking on Lee.
Lee stands at 196 centimetres tall and weighs in at 101 kilograms.
Throw in the fact he’s a “big rangy thing” and Austin was hoping he didn’t have to try and tackle the lanky winger.
“Personally not [looking forward to playing him] too much. Hopefully he doesn’t pick me out in the defensive line, he’s a big rangy thing and he’ll have bones flying everywhere,” he said.
“We wish Eddie all the best, we miss having him around here and hope he plays well.” with AAP
NRL ROUND TWO
Saturday: Canberra Raiders v Cronulla Sharks at Canberra Stadium, 7.30pm. Tickets available from Ticketek.