Wales youngster ready to follow in family’s footsteps

The grandson of a Cardiff City and Wales football legend can’t wait to take to the field for Wales in Rugby League this Friday for just the second time in his career.

Lewis Reece, 23, from Llanrumney in Cardiff, has been selected in the Welsh squad for the opening Rugby League European Championship match when they take on Scotland on Friday in Workington (kick-off 8pm).

Lewis’ grandfather was Gil Reece, who played 100 times for the Bluebirds and also won 29 caps for Wales. He also played 210 times for Sheffield United and had stints at Newport County, Pembroke Borough and spent a short time at Swansea City before retiring. He died in 2003 aged 61.

Now Lewis, who won his only Welsh Rugby League cap so far back in 2010 when he converted Gareth Thomas’ first ever international Rugby League try in a 13-6 friendly defeat to Italy, wants to play for Wales again on a regular basis and is delighted to be back in the squad.

“It’s been a few years since I won my first cap,” he said. “I was 18th man against France in 2012 so it’s been some time since I’ve been involved.

“We know it’s going to be a tough task against Scotland but we’re confident in ourselves. I know it’s a new squad but we’re all ready go, excited to be here and we’ll give 100% on Friday.”

Wales are the holders of the European Championship having won the last tournament four years ago in a dramatic game against France in Albi.

Part of Wales’ schedule this year is a rematch against the French in the same stadium and Reece hopes to be there.

He adds: “Every game is going to be tough and while Scotland will be a very difficult start with players like Danny Brough leading them, France will be something else especially with the atmosphere down there. I played for South Wales Scorpions against Toulouse and I remember how much the crowd get on your back. I really want to be a part of that game.

“We’d love to win the competition again, keep the trophy and qualify for the Four Nations and World Cup, it’s a big thing but we know that every side has Super League players so anyone can beat anyone on the day.”

Reece was close to his grandfather right up until Gil’s death and he says that there could have been a chance to play the round ball game professionally like his famous relative.

“He supported me throughout my career so I want to make his proud,” Reece adds. “I saw him pretty much every day of the week and always gave me tips on how to play, as well as good boots to play in.  I always played football as a kid and would loved to have played for Cardiff City and Wales like him but Celtic Crusaders Academy came in for me and it’s been rugby ever since.”

Reece is now back in the UK after playing for Toowoomba Clydesdales in Queensland throughout the 2014 season.

“Australia was a great experience,” he said. “It was good to play alongside some former NRL players and this year has really helped me in my career path.”