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RUGBY UNION: Aussie Lees revelling in his new life as an Exile
Mitch Lees may be missing the sun in his native Australia, but he has no doubt joining London Welsh has been good for his career.
Lees has impressed at both lock and blindside flanker since moving to the Exiles this season.
The 25-year-old was something of an unknown quantity on arriving at the Oxford-based club, but soon made his mark.
“I think my game has improved a lot over here,” said the 6ft 6in and 18st 8lb forward, who is rested for tomorrow’s British & Irish Cup clash with Pontypridd.
“Justin Burnell has worked a lot on using my size and being able to make a nuisance of myself in the rucks.
“I am usually one of the biggest players on the pitch and am making that count.”
This week’s wet weather saw Welsh move their training from Old Deer Park to Maidenhead RFC’s 3G pitch.
Lees would now be facing very different conditions back home in Sydney, but he is still happy to be here.
“Over Christmas, I was talking to my family, who were enjoying 38-degree heat,” he said.
“It was seven or eight degrees over here and it was my first cold Christmas.
“The weather here makes training a little bit different.
“If you are a forward, you know you are going to get muddy most of the time.”
Lees quickly established himself as a mainstay of Welsh’s team and has missed only one league game.
He said: “I am happy to play in either position and enjoy them both.
“I signed for London Welsh as a back-rower, but Justin Burnell knew I could play second row as well.
“It has worked out well.”
Despite featuring so regularly, Lees’s try in last week’s 33-26 victory at Jersey was his first for Welsh.
“I was relieved to get that try and thankful to Carl Kirwan,” he said.
“He gave me the pass from about one yard out.
“That was probably the longest try I have scored!”
As a proud Aussie, Lees followed the Ashes cricket with great interest and was delighted they wrapped up their 5-0 whitewash over England at his local ground.
“Sydney is my home, so it was even more special,” he said.
“Coming over here last summer, I was getting all the banter from the rest of the Welsh players.
“It’s good to give some back their way now.”
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