WITH his eighth Super League club in just 10 years, Tommy Lee hopes to have finally found a more lasting home at Hull KR.
The experienced hooker only turned 30 last month but seems to have been around for ages, maybe due to the vast number of different colours he has played in.
Tomorrow night Lee will face former club St Helens. Last week he featured against another old employer Huddersfield Giants while next Friday he returns to Hull FC where it all began in 2005.
Indeed, half of the Robins’ opening six games since returning to the top-flight have been against Lee’s erstwhile sides given fixtures against Salford Red Devils and Wakefield Trinity have also been chalked up.
You don’t need to a mathematician of any great note to realise he hasn’t spent long at the majority of those clubs.
Single seasons at Crusaders (2010), Wakefield (2011), Huddersfield (2012) and London Broncos (2013) came before a relatively epic stint at Salford (2014-16) which, then, precursed another solitary campaign at St Helens.
I signed a two-year deal here at KR, I’ve really settled in, it’s great being back home in Hull and now I just want to enjoy the next few years.Hull KR’s Tommy Lee
“It’s definitely surprised me – none of this was ever planned,” Lee told The Yorkshire Post.
“I signed two-year deals at most clubs and then other clubs would come in. It just happened that other opportunities kept coming up, often it would be other clubs who I thought were a bigger club at the time.
“That’s how it’s panned out but I wouldn’t change things. It’s been a good playing experience.
“But I don’t see myself moving again any time soon. I signed a two-year deal here at KR, I’ve really settled in, it’s great being back home in Hull and now I just want to enjoy the next few years.”
Lee was impressive as Rovers vanquished Huddersfield 38-6 last week, only a second win so far and one which leaves them in a positive frame of mind ahead of the visit from leaders St Helens.
That was the first game he hadn’t started but Lee – a talented footballer who can also operate at half-back and No 13 – is clearly already firmly part of Tim Sheens’s plans. He played 19 games for Saints last year, dovetailing with the brilliant England star James Roby, which proved a valuable experience for the Hull-born player.
Stopping the dynamic No 9 is another matter, however.
“It is difficult,” said Lee, about the former Man of Steel who is approaching 400 games for Saints.
“It’s not just him, though, it’s a team effort to stop a player like him. Robes is probably the best hooker in the league; he is so sharp out of dummy-half and it’s important we slow that ruck down to limit his running.
“If we do that we give ourselves a good chance. Off the field, he’s a great bloke, really laid-back and calm, never moans or complains, but when he steps onto it he’s just a machine. Outstanding.
“Obviously, Saints have started really well and been the benchmark of the league so far so it’s going to be a real challenge. But these are the games Rovers want to be involved in after pushing so hard to get promotion back into Super League.”
Saints lost for the first time against Leeds Rhinos last week while the manner in which KR dismantled Huddersfield, with a brutal combination of grittiness and style, suggests they are certainly finding their feet.
Lee added: “We were really disappointed we didn’t get anything from the Catalans game as well.
“We thought we were probably the better team and that was hard to take while we felt we could have got something from Leeds, too. But we scored some nice tries against Giants which is always good for confidence while the way we held them out for huge periods is obviously good as well.
“Hopefully we can get another two points on Friday and really build into that derby at Easter.”
Lee is enjoying extra game-time due to captain Shaun Lunt’s knee injury but they have also seen prop Nick Scruton drop out of the 19-man squad so young full-back Will Dagger comes in.
USA winger Junior Vaivai – signed by KR in mid-February – has at last received his visa and should arrive early next week.
Elsewhere, Castleford Tigers are set to be without Jesse Sene-Lefao for a “number of weeks” after the New Zealander prop underwent knee surgery yesterday.
Jy Hitchcox replaces him in the only alteration to the 19-man squad for tomorrow’s game against Leeds who are unchanged for the Elland Road clash but hope to see Brad Dwyer fit enough to feature.
Wakefield are without Tinirau Arona and Kyle Wood but James Batchelor and Keegan Hirst come in for Friday’s trip to Warrington who include ex-Wigan and England winger Josh Charnley after his switch from Sale Sharks..
Hull have included Albert Kelly for the game with Catalans Dragons after he missed the last three fixtures due to concussion. Hull yesterday signed prop Lewis Bienek, 19, from London on a three-and-a-half year deal with immediate effect, but he will be loaned back to the Championship club for remainder of this season
Meanwhile, Leeds’s postponed game against Catalans has been rearranged for Wednesday June 20 (7.45pm) at Headingley.