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Rugby | Pro14

Nico Lee © Gallo Images

Lee in the spotlight at Cheetahs

With five tries in his last two games, Nico Lee may not be on everybody’s lips outside Bloemfontein right now, but the talented midfielder is certainly using his opportunities to remind rugby fans just how good he is.

Lee scored a hat-trick in the first Pro14 derby game in Port Elizabeth and followed it up with a brace in the corresponding game last Saturday. He has been a rock in the midfield since the Toyota Cheetahs lost captain Francois Venter.

But the talented former Affies midfielder has caught the eye for longer than that, and has drawn praise from his coach, Rory Duncan, who believes he is currently one of the better players in the country.

“Nico Lee is a special player. I was fortunate enough to work with him back in 2014, and even then we identified him and said 'this guy is definitely going to come through and he is something special,'” Duncan said

“He is a hard worker and he deserves the accolades and performances he is giving now. I just think he is going to get better and better, if we can just keep him on the pitch, if we can keep him fit.

“I definitely think he is one to watch out for and feel he is one of the best centres in the country at the moment. I know a lot of people may argue with me, but I think so.”

While the Cheetahs have a week off now before they head to Cardiff for their fourth overseas trip in the competition, they were happy with their performances, and not just the scoreline. According to Duncan, the 10 points they picked up in the two local derbies were worth more than just the log position in which they now find themselves.

“At the end of the day what we wanted to do was get five points out of the game. We were pushing for the win and that is exactly what happened.

“Playing against a team like the Kings who are going to come here desperate for a win, it is always going to be a tough encounter. I believe that our guys played very well to get the five points.

“We achieved a lot more than just getting five points on the board. We gave a lot of guys a run - a lot of guys who haven’t necessarily played a lot of games in the competition.

"As we work our way to the back end of the competition, we need to make sure that we are giving enough guys game time, because if we pick up injuries, you don’t want to put a guy onto the field who hasn’t been on the field for the last two-three months. We managed to do a lot of squad rotation in the last few weeks and still get the points out of it, so we are more than satisfied.”

The Cheetahs will enjoy an off-week before heading to Wales for their next outing against the Cardiff Blues on February 10.


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