Edrick Lee believes the chance to do a full pre-season with Cronulla has him feeling right at home at the club, with the benefits now being shown on the field.
The giant winger joined the Sharks at the start of last season but had completed almost all of pre-season training with Canberra.
Spending the summer slogging it out with the rest of the Cronulla squad made Lee feel more part of the Sharks family. While he wasn’t chosen in first grade for the opening three rounds, some outstanding performances for partner club Newtown in the Intrust Super Premiership saw Lee force his way into Shane Flanagan’s side for Cronulla’s round four win over Melbourne.
Some impressive displays since have seen the 25-year-old stay on Cronulla’s right wing, scoring four tries in six games.
“I’m definitely happy with my performances but I think it all started in the pre-season,” Lee told the Leader.
“Having the chance to do a full pre-season with the club in the squad, with the players and just get to know everyone on and off the field. Whereas the previous year I just pretty much came in at the start of the year, I didn’t know what everyone was like and how to fit in.
“I feel like I’m sort of fitted in now which has sort of allowed me to play my natural game and believe in myself. And I think that’s showing on the field.”
Lee’s form has been a pleasant surprise for the Sharks who host Canterbury at Southern Cross Group Stadium on Sunday, looking to add to their four-match winning streak.
Cronulla will again wear their Indigenous jersey, which they wore during their brave 24-16 win over the Raiders in Canberra last weekend during the NRL’s Indigenous Round.
Sutherland Shire elder ‘Aunty’ Deanna Schreiber again designed the strip and explained the significance to the local area, with Cronulla originating from the word Kurranulla meaning “a place of pink sea shells” which feature on the strip.
Indigenous and non-indigenous people are also represented on the jersey with a prominent black shark and white markings on Cronulla’s traditional blue, which represents the ocean.
“It’s definitely one that I mark off in the calendar. It’s a great initiative from the NRL to recognise the Indigenous people of the country. It’s always good to get exposure for Indigenous people at a professional level,” Lee said.
“The more the NRL get behind it but also the players as well. The players in the squad are embracing the culture as well. It sort of reflects on the club and the culture they’re trying to build here at the Sharks.
“It’s definitely a big honour to represent my family and my people. As a professional athlete on a big level like the NRL. Just really privileged to be in the position I am to represent them.”
“It’s good to see all the jerseys designed with the local community and the players involved in it. I love the Indigenous jersey. A few of the boys said this could be the best one yet that the Sharks have produced. It’s good to see every club getting them done.”
Cronulla will host a local A-Grade game between Como and Engadine as the curtain-raiser to the Sharks-Bulldogs clash on Sunday.
A-Grade kicks off at 1.45pm, with first grade at 4.10pm.